Never heard of The Shy Five Animals? We got you!

May 2405, 2019

You’re a very lucky human if you get to see any of these African animals as they are notoriously bashful and will do their best not to meet you!

  • Porcupine
  • Bat-eared fox
  • Aardvark
  • Meerkat
  • Aardwolf


Porcupines are cute but prickly. And we mean that literally. A porcupine’s entire back is covered with sharp, black and white, quills that can reach up to 50 cm in length. If challenged, the porcupine will turn its back to the danger and raise its quills. Even if you’re a leopard:

Porcupines, too, are mostly nocturnal and can sometimes be spotted on night drives, rootling around.

Bat-eared fox

These sweet li’l creatures with their huge upright ears and narrow snouts ensure their privacy by being mainly nocturnal. They are masters of disguise and, if they feel in danger, they lie down in tall grass or thick bush and become perfectly camouflaged due to their colouring.

Derek Keats

Another reason they’re hard to see is that they’re really small – usually only about 30 cm tall, weighing in at 3 to 5 kg.


These must be one of the cutest members of the Shy 5 animals, with their long noses and sweet upright ears. There’s something kangaroo-like about aardvarks. They have a long, tapered tail and arched back, and are covered in coarse grey-brown hair that protects them from being bitten by insects.

During the day, aardvarks sleep, curled into a tight ball in their burrow, coming out at night to hunt for termites and other insects.


While this one is often questioned as a ‘shy’ creature, as there are troops of habituated meerkats who are curious and wonderful to watch, they have extraordinarily well-honed senses and, in their natural environment, will disappear way before a human can get anywhere near.

Ronnie Macdonald

Slender-tailed and often striped, they are known for their standing pose – often whole troops together – to suss out their surroundings (and you, if you’re lucky enough to be in their presence).


Aardwolves, too, are mostly nocturnal, and small, usually measuring only about 45 cm in height. They are, in fact, a species of hyena but, unlike their rather-less-handsome cousins, their diet consists of termites. They can eat up to 300 000 termites in a night!

Due to their needing to eat vast amounts of termites, they are solitary creatures and meet up with other aardwolves only to mate and rear young.