- Photo Courtesy
of the University of Michigan
with Baby - Photo Courtesy of Brazilian Adventure Travel
at Phoenix Zoo -
Photo by Tom Irvine
Giant anteater - myrmecophaga
tridactyla. Also known as the ant-bear.
Order - Edentata - comprised of mammals including
tree sloths, anteaters, and armadillos. Family - Myrmecophagidae
Giant anteaters range
throughout most of tropical America from northern Argentina to
Guatemala and Honduras. Anteaters live in tropical savannas and forests
of these regions.
The anteater has
an elongated snout. The sticky substance of its tongue traps insects.
It eats up to 30,000 ants, termites and other insects each day.
The claws of the anteater's front feet are hooked backward and serve
the animal for ripping into ant and termite nests.
Anteaters seldom spend more than a couple of minutes feeding at any one
nest. Only a few thousand insects are removed at one feeding and then
the nest is abandoned to repairs. The anteaters circulate around their
territories, feeding lightly here and there, never destroying any one
nest and, therefore, never eliminating any of their food base. Termites
and ants recover losses very rapidly.
Anteaters have a good
sense of smell, but poor eyesight.
The anteater is toothless. The order name Edentata
means "no teeth."
The anteater's body is
from 4 to 6 feet long, with course hair and a long, wide tail. They
weigh from 40 to 85 pounds.
The giant anteater
walks clumsily on the soles of its back feet and on the in-turned claws
of its front feet. The claws are curved inward to keep them from being
Adults are normally
The mother anteater
carries her single offspring on her back for a considerable length of
time, even though the baby anteater is capable of a slow gallop four
weeks after birth.
The anteater can fight
off a jaguar of puma with its sharp claws.