Anteater facts

The most extraordinary among the representatives of the fauna is the anteater. It can be called a favorite of Americans, due to the fact that this exotic is bred at home. The population does not differ in the diversity of species.

There are only three species of anteaters: gigantic, tamandua and pygmy anteater, all of them are united into the family of anteaters in the order Not full-toothed. Accordingly, the only relatives of anteaters are armadillos and sloths, although outwardly these animals are completely different from each other.

The anteater is a rather large mammal. Its body is up to 4 feet (1.3 m) long. Larger specimens are found – up to 6.5 feet (2 meters), almost half is the tail. The anteater weighs between 65 and 90 lb (30-40 kg). But there are also dwarf representatives in the squad, no more than 8 inches (20 cm) in length and no more than 1 lb (450 grams) in weight.

tamandua

The head of anteaters is relatively small, but the muzzle is very elongated and reaches 20-30% of the body length. The anteaters have a very narrow muzzle, and the jaws have grown together so that the anteater practically cannot open its mouth. In fact, the anteaters face resembles a pipe, at the end of which there are nostrils and a tiny mouth opening. In addition to everything, the anteaters are completely devoid of teeth, but the long tongue stretches the entire length of the muzzle, and the muscles with which it is attached are unprecedentedly powerful – the muscles that control the tongue are attached to the sternum! The giant anteaters tongue is 2 feet (60 cm) long and is considered the longest of any land animal.

The speed of the tongue while eating is 160 movements per minute, and thanks to the natural stickiness (salivary glands), everything that gets on the tongue of the anteater can no longer be torn off.

The animal also possesses two pairs of powerful paws, at the ends of which are long and strong claws resembling those of sloths.

No less interesting is the anteaters tail. Its tail makes it easier to climb trees. The tail can reach 3 feet (90 cm) in length. The color is brown with dark stripes. The coat is very tough, like a porcupine.

Lifestyle and habitat

giant anteater

The anteater is an American animal. You can meet him in the latitudes of South America. The natural habitat is tropical rainforest with lush vegetation. Giant anteaters are land animals that cannot climb trees. Dwarf anteaters prefer to live only in trees. And medium sized anteaters that walk on the ground but can climb trees.

Mammalian activity begins in the evening. Prefers uninhabited places. During the day, giants roam in search of food, in places where there are no people. They sleep most of the day, about 16 hours a day.

Long claws prevent large individuals from walking, so they bend them inward and step on the outer side of the paw, they gait like a bear. Claws are needed only for the destruction of large anthills and termite mounds, as well as for protection from enemies. Some anteaters can swim long distances.

What does an anteater eat?

As you might guess from the name of this animal, the favorite food of anteaters is, of course, ants, as well as termites. The anteater can swallow up to 30 thousand insects per day. If during the day the animal failed to find an anthill, then soft larvae of all kinds of beetles found in old trees, in the ground, in the grass can also be suitable as prey.

Reproduction and life expectancy

anteater with cub

Anteaters mate twice a year: in autumn and spring. The duration of pregnancy, depending on the species, ranges from 3 to 6 months. The newborn animal is absolutely bald, it immediately climbs onto the mother’s back and continues its development there.

Until a month of life, small anteaters move exclusively on the back of their parents and only then begin to take their first independent steps. Feeding young anteaters may not seem like a very pleasant sight to us, the mother and father of anteaters vomit a special mass of half-digested insects, which serves as food for growing small anteaters.

long tongue anteater

Giant anteaters live up to 15 years, and tamandua, like dwarf anteaters, up to 9 years.

Enemies of the anteaters

Who can be called the enemy of the anteater? Jaguars and lions can harm large land animals. But for the dwarf anteater, the circle of predators is expanding. They can be attacked not only by predatory cats, but also by huge birds (eagle), poisonous snakes.

anteater standing on its hind legs

All species of anteaters are inherently slow to reproduce and highly dependent on specific food sources, so these animals are unlikely to regain their numbers in places where they were exterminated. Locals have always hunted these animals for meat, so the giant anteater is already under threat of extinction. However, the greatest danger for them is not the hunters, but the destruction of their natural habitat. In zoos, anteaters are also not common, possibly due to low public interest in little-known animals. At the same time, keeping these animals in captivity turned out to be surprisingly easy. Gourmet anteaters in captivity easily switch to unusual food – they gladly eat not only insects, but also minced meat, berries, fruits and especially love … milk.