The Shy 5 Animals of Africa

Nearly everyone has heard of “the Big Five”. But…. have you ever heard of “The Shy Five” animals of Africa? These five species are mainly nocturnal (apart from one) and you have to do your very best in order to be able to see these creatures, as they scare easily and like to hide!


These comical creatures are a real pleasure to watch. They are highly social and very intelligent. Meerkats live in the deserts and grasslands of the southern tip of Africa, and they are omnivores. They live in large underground tunnels in groups of 20-50. Even though they live in the desert, they don’t need water, they get all the moisture they need from their food.

Bat-eared fox

The bat-eared fox is FOUND ON TH African savanna. This cute creature has, as its name suggests, huge ears in proportion to the rest of its body. This mainly live of insects, fruit and small rodents which they eat with tiny little teeth. They weight 3-5 kilos. They are mainly nocturnal animals. When they hunt, they keep their ears close to the ground. They are able to hear insects underground.


This elusive animal looks a little bit like a striped hyena. It does belong to the same family, but its diet is completely different, it actually eats mainly of termites instead of meat. Its long sticky tongue licks up the termites from the ground. Aardwolves are nocturnal and spend their days underground, in burrows. The often use the abandoned dens of porcupines or aardvarks. They are territorial animals and have a territory of up to 4 square kilometers.


The name Porcupines means ‘thorn pig’. They are covered in quills all over their body, some of which are up to 30 cm long. The white and black crest of spines and quills can be erected at will to make the animal look enormous and threatening. Some spines on the tail are hollow and make a rattling sound when shaken. The very sharp spines and quills come off when touched by a predator or shaken off, but they grow back rapidly. African porcupines also have very long mobile whiskers.

African porcupines are mainly vegetarian, eating roots and bulbs. They are also fond of fruit. They are mainly nocturnal and normally sleep during the day.

Porcupines can get quite aggressive when threatened, running sideways or backwards to embed their sharp quills in an attacker.


As the strongest animal of the Shy Five, the aardvark is a powerful termite-eating digger. It has a long snout with a nose that looks like the one of a pig. They are not related to them though, in fact, one of their closest living relatives is the elephant! Aardvarks are also known as antbears or anteaters.

Aardvarks are mainly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Aardvarks come out to eat at night and sleep in burrows during the day. They mainly live on ants and termites and can eat up to 50000 per day. They can walk for kilometers during the night while foraging for food.

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