Giant Anteater

Scientific Name

Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Description

The Giant Anteater has a long snout and a large, bushy tail. Its coat is brown with a large black and white stripe on its shoulder. It has small ears and eyes, which contributes to the streamlined appearance of its head. The Giant anteater has a long, thin tongue that it uses to extract ants from their mound. It also has one of the lowest body temperatures of any known mammal (91 degrees F).

Food

Carpenter ants and other large ants are the primary food of Giant anteaters. They usually ignore termites, army ants, and other species with large jaws. Ants are carefully removed from the colony when the anteater inserts its long tongue covered with sticky saliva. The anteater dines on a mound for about one minute before moving on to another mound.

Habitat

The Giant anteater can be found in large parts of southern Central America and the northern and central parts of South America. Populations are densest in the tropical forests, grasslands, and highlands where ants are most abundant.

Predators

Giant anteaters are the prey of pumas and jaguars.

Social Structure

Giant anteaters are solitary animals that usually only pair up for a brief period of time during mating season.

Birth & Offspring

After about 140 days of gestation, the mother gives birth to a single offspring. The newborn crawls onto the back of the mother. The baby suckles for about 6 months. The infant will not feed independently until it is about two years old.

Senses

A keen sense of smell is critical for the Giant anteater. It is used to locate ant colonies located in the anteater’s territory. They also have a keen sense of hearing that is used to warn the anteater of approaching predators.

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