Is a pangolin an ant bear

Giant anteater


What does the giant anteater look like?

The great anteater belongs to the anteater family and thus to two groups of animals with strange names: to the articulated animals and to the order of the toothless.

These animals are called secondary articulated animals because they have additional articular cusps on the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, and they are called toothless because they have no teeth.

The giant anteater is 100 to 120 centimeters long and its tail measures 70 to 90 centimeters. He weighs 20 to 50 kilograms.

The most striking feature is the long, thin snout: it measures up to 45 centimeters and has only a tiny mouth opening through which the up to 60 cm long, worm-shaped, sticky tongue fits.

The thick, up to 40 centimeters long fur is gray-brown, buttocks, hind legs and the long and bushy tail are darker brown. A wide black, white-lined stripe runs from the strong neck and shoulder to the back, which is getting narrower and narrower.

The forelegs are also noticeable: they are almost white and have a wide, black transverse strap.

The front and rear feet each have five clawed toes. The three middle claws of the front feet are 10 centimeters long; they are perfect tools for digging and defense.

Because the small head with the small ears and the thin snout look so delicate and the thick and long hairy tail so powerful, the shape of the great anteater looks very unusual. Females and males look the same, the females are sometimes slightly larger than the males.

Where do giant anteaters live?

Giant anteaters are at home in Central and South America. There they occur from southern Mexico to Paraguay and northwestern Argentina.

Large anteaters mainly live in savannahs and gallery forests - these are the narrow strips of forest that run along the banks of rivers and streams.

Sometimes they can also be found in wetlands and in agricultural areas. The animals only stay on the ground.

Which anteater species are there?

In addition to the giant anteater, there is also the northern and southern Tamandua, as well as the pygmy anteater, which is just 20 centimeters tall. The northern Tamandu lives from southern Mexico to northern Peru, the southern Tamandua in South America to northern Argentina. The pygmy anteater occurs from southern Mexico to southern Brazil.

How old do anteaters get?

Anteaters can live up to 25 years in captivity, but in nature they usually don't live that long.


How does the giant anteater live?

The giant anteater is a loner who each inhabit a territory. Although it has no fixed borders, it is definitely defended against other species.

Anteaters are diurnal and wander long distances through their territory in search of food.

They spend the night hidden in the bushes or in hollow tree trunks. Only when their territory is in regions that are populated by people do they shift their forays into the night, because then they feel safer and more undisturbed.

Anteaters cannot see very well, but they can hear well. The sense of smell is best developed.

They use their noses to find termite nests and break them open with their powerful claws. Then they pull the prey out of the nests with their long tongues.

However, they never completely destroy the nests, so that the termite or ant colony can recover.

Because the claws on their front legs are so elongated, they have to go on the ankles.

For this reason, their walk usually seems very leisurely, and they are not particularly fast either.

They can only cover short distances at a fast gallop.

Friends and enemies of the great anteater

Only big cats like jaguars and puma can be dangerous to the anteaters.

But they are quite strong and in case of danger they stand up on their hind legs and defend themselves with their dangerous, razor-sharp claws.

The greatest enemy of animals is humans: giant anteaters are hunted for their fur and meat. Anteaters, which live near human-populated areas and have shifted their activity time to night, are relatively often hit by cars.

How do anteaters reproduce?

Only when it is mating season do the anteater males and females team up for a short time. After the courtship and mating, they part ways again. About 190 to 195 days after mating, the female gives birth to a cub. It weighs around 1500 grams and is already fully developed.

The boy has thick fur and looks like a miniature version of his parents. In addition, the little ones have a white stripe on the back.

For four to six months, a baby is carried around by its mother exclusively on its back, it only crawls down to suckle. The little ones only become independent and leave their mother when they are around two years old. Anteaters reach sexual maturity when they are three to four years old.

How do anteaters communicate?

Adult anteaters do not make any sounds, only the cubs sometimes make a bright trill.


What do anteaters eat?

Anteaters mainly eat termites and ants as well as their maggots. That is why they have a special tongue: it is very thin and long and coated with sticky saliva.

They insert this tongue into the tunnels of the termite burrows and the insects cling to it like a liming rod.

Because the anteaters do not have teeth, the food is chopped up with the help of strong muscles in the stomach and then digested.

They also ingest sand with the ants and termites, which also helps break down the food in the stomach. An adult anteater needs 30,000 to 35,000 termites or ants per day.