Shy 5

Here at Nature Travel Kruger we have told you about the Big Five, the Ugly Five and the Secret Seven before, but today is the turn of another interesting group of Kruger’s animals; the Shy Five.

These five mammal species are known for their timid and nervous disposition, both in front of human visitors and other animals. They are all difficult to spot in the wild, but as always the fantastic Kruger National Park gives you a good chance to see one or more of them, especially on a night drive!

Other publications and experts have different versions of which animals are included in the Shy Five, but after years of working in Kruger we feel that these are the five animals that most accurately reflect the true behaviour of the Shy Five.

The first member is the strange looking and almost mythical Aardvark, usually found in open savannah landscape near to termite mounds where it uses its 30cm long tongue to find termites and ants. Normally an Aardvark will be of a colour similar to the soil in the area in which it lives. This one-of-a-kind pig-like creature is active only at night and can walk very far in search of food.

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The solitary and nocturnal Aardwolf may look like a miniature, striped hyena at first glance, but this dog-like animal, and number two on our list, also lives on a steady diet of termites. Aardwolf means “earth wolf” directly translated to English and they are in fact members of the Hyaena family. However, they do not have the powerful jaws and large teeth of the other members of the family, and instead make do with pegs for teeth, perfect for consuming the 250,000 termites per night they regularly do.

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The third member of the group, the Side-striped Jackal, is not only nocturnal but also extremely timid and rarely seen. They are solitary dog-like animals, foraging for carrion, fruit and insects during the early evening or at dawn. It can change its diet based on environmental conditions, and in certain areas almost exclusively eats fruit. As the name suggests, the jackal has a distinct black stripe running along its body and a white-tipped tail.

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Also known as the Cape Genet, the South African Large-spotted Genet is next up. It is a small cat-like creature that actually belongs to the Mongoose family. They are naturally shy and very nocturnal in nature, hunting for birds, lizards, rodents, snakes and insects. Being good tree climbers (using the black-tipped tail for counterbalance), they are usually found in mixed woodland areas where they can scramble along tree branches.

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Lastly, the odd-looking Cape Porcupine is actually a rodent, the largest in the region. The entire back and flank area of a porcupine is covered with sharp, black and white quills that can grow up to 50 cm long. The quills can be made to rattle when the animal is threatened and can get stuck into its enemies if they try to attack the porcupine. They are also shy and nocturnal, coming out at night to feed on roots, bulbs and other vegetarian matter.

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For your chance to see one, or more, of these fascinating but shy animals, join us on safari in Kruger! For more information browse to our Nature Travel Kruger Website or enquire at


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