Small Creatures
Kruger Park Wildlife Facts

© Porcupine © Nigel Dennis

Porcupines are the largest African rodents, weighing up to 27kg. Although they are common in Kruger, they are rarely seen because of their nocturnal habits. By day they hide in their burrows and emerge after dusk to forage, sometimes wandering up to 15km, seeking a variety of foods, including roots, bulbs, bark and wild fruit.


Warthog.Warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus)

Characteristics

Pig-like animal with extended snout and tusks; grey skin with a bristly manei; males weigh up to 150kg and stand 80cm high; approximately 3800 in Kruger.

Food

Grazer and rooter of bulbs; usually found in small families of two sows and their piglets; average herd size in Kruger is two to five; males are usually solitary; loves mud baths; little fat on body so hates cold weather.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Grazer; open savanna, particularly around water holes and marshy areas, common throughout Kruger.

South African Porcupine.South African Porcupine (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

Characteristics

Largest African rodent; body covered with thick, sharp black-and-white quills, nocturnal animal that sleeps by day often in communal burrows; it does not shoot out quills but charges backwards at aggressors, trying to spike them.

Food

Vegetarian diet of bulbs, tubers, tree bark, roots, berries; known to gnaw on bones.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Occur in a variety of habitats throughout Kruger, but generally where the landscape is broken and hilly.

Tree squirrel.Tree squirrel (Paraxerus cepapi)

Characteristics

Distinctly bushy tails, active during the day, either singly, in pairs or in groups; active in trees and on the ground.

Food

Nuts, fruit, roots, grass, birds' eggs and sometimes insects.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Woodland savanna throughout Kruger; particularly prevalent in mopaneveld.

Honey Badger.Honey badger OR Ratel (Mellivora capensis)

Characteristics

Distinctive white strip down head and back; shy, nocturnal animals but aggressive when cornered; bear-like claws that are good for digging; thick fur and tough, elastic skin is main defence, especially against bees.

Food

Ruthless love of honey and can withstand attacks by swarms of bees; also feeds on small mammals, reptiles, insects, bulbs, roots and fruit.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Found in all Kruger habitats, from savanna grassland to dense woodland.

Aardwolf.Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus)

Characteristics

Hyaena-like nocturnal animal that sleeps by day in burrows; morphologically they appear to be a link between civets and mongooses.

Food

Small teeth and narrow jaws limit its diet to insects; feeds mostly on termites but does eat plant material and birds' eggs.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Uncommon in Kruger; limited to Pretoriuskop area and the Lebombo flats in the east.

Aardvark.Aardvark (Orycteropus afer)

Characteristics

Pig-sized, hairy animal with long snout; walks long distances at night in search of food and sleeps in burrows during the day; tongue is 30cm long.

Food

Termites, ants, insect larvae, certain plants.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Open savanna grassland, particularly where there are lots of termite mounds and anthills.

Pangolin.Pangolin OR Scaly antbear (Manis temminckii)

Characteristics

Dinosuar-like scaly body; nocturnal, generally solitary animal about one metre long; small eyes, no visible ears and long, sticky tongue; rolls up into a ball when challenged.

Food

Primarily ants and termites which it digs out of the ground.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Lightly wooded savanna grassland where there are lots of termite mounds

Striped Polecat.Striped polecat (Ictonyx striatus)

Characteristics

Nocturnal animals with distinctive white stripes from the nape of the neck to the tail.

Food

Rodents, hares, snakes, frogs, birds and insects.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Open savanna, drier areas in eastern Kruger.

Rock Dassie.Rock dassie or cape hyrax (Procavia capensis)

Characteristics

Gregarious creatures that live in colonies of up to 50 animals, prominent on rocks where they lie in the sun for hours.

Food

Vegetarian diet of grass, leaves, fruit, bark and twigs.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Confined to the more mountainous areas of Kruger - the south-western foothills, the Lebombo and the northern sandveld.

Springhare.Spring hare (Pedetes capensis)

Characteristics

Very powerful hindlegs with short front legs; distinctive ears; mostly nocturnal; lives in communal burrows.

Food

Grass, roots, tubers, bulbs.

Where best to see them in Kruger

Confined mostly to the northern sandveld.

Illustration: Chip Snaddon

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