Did you know the giant anteater is native to Central and South America?
Photo: Dave Pape/Wikimedia Commons.
There are four species of anteaters: the giant anteater, silky anteater, southern tamandua and northern tamandua. Anteaters are closely related to sloths and armadillos. The giant anteater is the largest of the anteater species and can be almost two metres long. Its snout itself can be as long as 45 cm. The giant anteater has very poor eyesight and lacks teeth but nature has provided it with a whole lot of other tools to survive. It depends on its sense of smell to find ant or termite nests. It then uses its powerful claws, which can fold back when walking, to tear an opening into a termite or an ant hill. It never destroys a nest, and only spends a few minutes in one nest, allowing it to come back in the future for food. It then pushes its tube-like snout into the opening and sticks its long, narrow tongue which can be up to 50 cm. long into the colony. The sensitive tips help it search inside the nest’s narrow chambers. The sticky tongue is flicked in and out like a pump, super quickly to avoid painful stings, gathering up more than 25,000 insects in a day. This generally solitary animal is not aggressive, but if threatened, it can even stand up to a jaguar or a puma.
Author: Sanctuary Asia, First appeared in: Sanctuary Cub, May, 2014.