The animal on the cover of Jakarta Commons Cookbook is an aardvark. Native to the grasslands and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, the aardvark is the only surviving species in the Orycteropodidae family of mammals.Despite being named for its resemblance to the pig (the word aardvark derives from the Dutch for "earth pig"), the aardvark's appearance is far more similar to that of marsupials, such as the bilby and the bandicoot.
Aardvarks are distinguished by their pig-like torso, arched back, oversized ears, and lengthy snout. They are typically yellow-gray in color, although their tough skin may appear reddish-brown when coated in soil. On average, the adult aadvark is slightly more than three feet long and weighs approximately 90 to 140 pounds.Aardvarks dine almost exclusively on ants and termites, for which their tiny, tubular mouth and long, slender tongue are ideally suited. Upon locating a cache of ants with their keen sense of smell, aardvarks use their strong front legs to dig into the nest and rapidly lap up the insects with their sticky tongue. Scientists have observed aardvarks devouring as many as 50,000 insects in a single night!
By nature, aardvarks tend to be reclusive.They are nocturnal creatures that build elaborate individual burrows of up to 40 feet in length in their home terrain, used to search for food and provide temporary shelter. Mothers make use of burrows as a more permanent home when giving birth to their young.
Currently, aardvarks are not considered an endangered species. However, they are still targeted by hunters for their exquisite cylindrical teeth, which are often used for decorative purposes.