What are the shy five?

We all know about the Big 5 of Africa, but have you heard of the Shy Five? The shy five is a term used to refer to the smaller more elusive group of animals that are rather nervous or timid in the company of people (and other animals sometimes too).

All but the Meerkat are nocturnal animals which means that you might have to wake up before the crack of dawn in order to get a good sighting. You should consider yourself lucky if you do happen to spot one of the Shy Five as these sightings are generally quite special and thus makes it far more rewarding if you get a good spot!

At Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate you’re likely to only spot the Porcupine, while being in the Kalahari, west of South Africa would be a much better place to get a glimpse of the remaining Shy Five.

1. Aardvark

The Aardvark is by far one of the oddest and most mysterious nocturnal mammal around. Easily recognizable by its long nose and tapered tail, the Aardvark is the strongest of all the Shy Five. They spend most of their day in cool underground burrows which they dig with their strong, spade-like feet and claws. After sunset, they pop out in search of their favourite staple – termites!

Photo credit: Quintin M

Photo credit: Quintin M

2. Aardwolf

Aardwolf means “earth wolf” directly translated to English and they are members of the Hyena family. Also a termite eater, Aardwolves don’t dig into the nests of termites, they just pick them up with their tongue. They can consume as many as 200,000 termites during one night.

Photo credit: Africansky.com

Photo credit: Africansky.com

3. Bat-eared fox

Named for its enormous ears in relation to its face and the rest of its body, the bat-eared fox is considered to be one of the cutest and more popular sightings of the Shy Five. Most often seen foraging at night for ants, termites, spiders, scorpions and crickets. Usually the females are the ones in charge of collecting food while males take on the parental duties. The seldom drink water as they obtain most of the moisture they need from their food.

Photo credit: Anton Kruger

Photo credit: Anton Kruger

4. Meerkat

Meerkats are for sure the most entertaining of all the Shy Five and also known for being ridiculously comical. They are very sociable among their own kind and like to hang around in large groups where you will find that each one has their own job to do whether it be collecting food or standing watch for predators on a nearby hill. Standing at only about 30cm tall, they might be small but they sure are smart. Meerkats will often drag a scorpion or millipede through the sand before eating it. This helps to get rid of venom in the scorpions or toxic secretions from the millipedes.

5. Porcupine

Porcupines might look pretty cute but they are very prickly. The entire back of a porcupine is covered with sharp, black and white quills that can grow up to 50 cm long. When challenged, the porcupine will turn its back to the danger and raise its quills. Porcupines travel alone or in small family groups. They normally they sleep in the day and feed at night. A group of porcupines is conveniently named a prickle.

Likweti Bushveld Farm Estate is a 765 hectare luxury residential estate near White River in Mpumalanga.

This eco-sensitive wildlife estate offers property owners the unique opportunity to combine the best elements of estate living with a true bushveld farm lifestyle.

For information about property for sale and building packages at Likwet Estate, please contact us.

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