Animal Dilemmas – Pangolin Aardvark

short story about friends and enemies

Short Story

The Aardvark reached the ground of the termite mound in short time for it knew the way well. It was not going to feed on the mount for another few days giving the termites ample time to regroup and rebuild. So it chose a small bush grove with a single tree and and started digging. It dug all night excavating plenty of dirt and reaching a good depth to spend the day in.

On the second night the Aardvark went about to eat, seeking further ant nests and saving the local one for when an urgent need arises. It looked hard and far but all ant and termite nests were already dug out and empty. It went back to its whole hungry, dug for a few hours and spend the day under ground sleeping.

It woke in the evening and and went to the termite mount for an easy quick snack of a few hundred insects. To its surprise the mount was freshly dug about and the termites had gone deep into the ground or scattered. The Aardvark was discouraged and returned to the grove to rethink its next direction.

The Pangolin emerged from the large borrow in the base of the tree just as the Aardvark returned.

‘So it was you that has been digging in my grove,’ grunted the Pangolin.

‘So it was you that had eaten all the termites,’ grunted the Aardvark.

‘It is only my right. This is my tree and my grove and you are not welcome. The termites are also mine.’

‘What makes them yours?’

‘I was here first,’ grunted the Pangolin.

‘And you will leave first.’

‘Do you know how many leaves has this tree,’ grunted the Pangolin?

‘As many as there are termites in this nest.’

‘Maybe, maybe more, maybe less. I don’t like your kind. Your kind attracts pythons. Pythons like to go down your holes and choke you and then stay there,’ grunted the Pangolin.

‘And your kind is scared of everything.’

‘So you are not scared of pythons?’

‘I am and unlike you I cannot roll in a ball and hope for the best.’

‘I cannot run fast so I roll in a ball, I have a strong shell.’

‘What if the python waits until you are tired and unroll.’

‘Why, is there a python in the area. I knew you would bring trouble,’ grunted the Pangolin. It was very afraid of pythons because they waited. Lions and other cats disliked to wait they enjoyed the thrill to the hunt. But pythons, they just waited.

‘I haven’t seen any pythons.’

‘I don’t believe you,’ grunted the Pangolin and retreated in the burrow.

The Aardvark peaked inside the large crack on the base of the tree.

‘Get out,’ a grunt called from the darkness.

‘What if a python enters here, what are you gonna do.’

‘Get out.’

‘I have been digging two nights and I will not leave my new hole because of you.’

‘I hope a python finds you and chokes you.’

‘If it finds me it will find you.’

‘But I can roll into a ball and wait.’

‘Is that your only solution to everything, roll into a ball.’

‘My legs are short and my armor heavy. Yes rolling is my only solution.’

‘I wish I could roll but my only solution is running with my short legs. Or avoiding meeting pythons which I have succeeded at so far.’

‘You never met a python,’ the Pangolin poked its head out!


‘Do you know how they look like?’

‘No. You?’

‘Yes, I have been attacked twice and escaped twice.’

‘How did you escape?’

‘I rolled and waited. The first time we were on an edge of a hill and the python in its attempt to unroll me from my defense rolled me down the hill. I gathered speed and nearly broke my back but landed into the river and nearly drowned. The current carried me far and I never saw that python again.’

‘You were vey lucky.’

‘I was young, you have more luck when you are young, my armer was stronger.’

‘How about the second time?’

‘It was very different. I rolled and waited the python rolled around me and waited. My muscles were getting tired from keeping a stif ball of my body. The python didn’t move. I thought that was the end.’

‘And what happened?’

‘I waited for a long time and the python waited. I think the python was sleeping but I wasn’t sure so I didn’t move. My muscles were giving up and I thought that was the end.’

‘You said that already. How did you escape?’

‘Giants came, they like to eat pythons.’

‘Giants are more dangerous that pythons.’

‘Yes, they eat all creatures or sometimes kill them and leave them to rot.’

‘What did they do?’

‘They put the python in a bag while it was sleeping.’

‘And you?’

‘I unroll and ran as soon as I felt the python was off me.’

‘The giants didn’t put you in a bag.’

‘I didn’t wait to find out what were they going to do.’

‘They sometimes dig up my holes trying to get me. I hate giants,’ grunted the Aardvark.

‘I hate giants too,’ grunted the Pangolin.

‘So you just ran, you didn’t roll down a hill and into a river?’

‘I ran and entered a hole in the ground.’

‘Your hole?’

‘No, I don’t like to dig. The first hole that I saw.’

‘Was someone in there?’


‘So I probably saved your life.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘There is no other digger larger enough so you fit in their hole.’

The Pangolin grunted as it thought about this proposition.

‘Maybe, maybe,’ it said. ‘You can stay for a while but don’t eat my ants.’

‘I settled here for the ants.’

‘Ok, you can have some. You can feed on the nests to the east and I will feed on the nests to the west.’

The Aardvark grunted in agreement.

next chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Black Mamba Pangolin

previous chapter: Animal Dilemmas – Aardvark Gnu

all chapters: Animal Dilemmas

more by XIDAN

photograph by Alastair McCann

The Writers Manifesto


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