CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)ORDER: EdentataFAMILY: MyrmecophagidaeGENUS: Myrmecophaga SPECIES: tridactyla
The huge anteater"s sense of odor is 40 times much more powerful than ours.

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Looks deserve to be deceiving: Its name is a hint to one of its favorite foods, and also you can"t miss its long snout, however there"s an ext to the story that the giant anteater! This unique animal is the largest of the four anteater species (the others are the silky anteater, the north tamandua, and also the southern tamandua). The giant anteater is around the size of a golden retriever, yet thick, bushy hair provides it look even bigger. 

The anteater"s gray hair feels like straw and also grows especially long ~ above the tail (up to 16 customs or 40 centimeters), and also it sporting activities a stylish strip of black that follow me from under the sleep to the middle of the back. This strip is outlined in white, tan, or gray and also goes under to a black color ring roughly the basic of the front feet. The hairy, bushy tail is frequently used together a blanket or sunshade. The large anteater’s elongated head and also nose are perfectly design to get in and also out the a termite mound or anthill.

The huge anteater"s claws curl up right into their feet as soon as they walk, in order to store their claws from wearing down and losing their sharpness.

Giant anteaters walk with a sluggish shuffle on all 4 legs with their sleep pointed to the ground. They nothing walk on your feet; instead, with the claws cutting up into the feet, anteaters go on your "fists." This help to keep the claws sharp so anteaters deserve to dig right into ant piles or protect themselves native predators. Anteaters space also great swimmers, utilizing the freestyle stroke and with their long snout as a snorkel.

The gigantic anteater has actually one that the longest tongues in relation to that body size of any kind of mammal, as presented by this infant anteater.

Can girlfriend imagine eating nothing yet ants every day long? huge anteaters have no teeth, however a committed tongue allows them come eat as much as 30,000 ants and termites every day.

Giant anteaters variety from Honduras in central America to the Gran Chaco region of Bolivia in southern America, and also are found in tropical and also dry forests, savannas, and grasslands. These space perfectly designed to feed on ants, i m sorry is great, because ants are a really reliable food source. The anteater"s small tongue is about 2 feet (60 centimeters) long and is shaped favor a strand that spaghetti. This impressive tongue has actually teeny, backward-pointing spines extended in sticky saliva that assist in feeding. Relying ~ above its acute feeling of smell, the huge anteater detects an ant mound and also swiftly rips into it through its sharp, formidable claws. It then darts its tongue within (up come 150 times every minute!), choose up the worker ants through that difficult saliva. 

The anteater just feeds at one mound for about a minute prior to moving on. After ~ all, the pet doesn"t want to entirely wipe out its resource of food! with a mouthful of delicious insects, the anteater crushes them against the roof the the mouth, and also its an extremely muscular stomach more pulverizes the food. Anteaters may additionally lick in ~ fallen fruit and also eat soft grubs. 

Giant anteater pups spend the first year that life hitching a ride on your mothers" backs.

Giant anteaters are usually solitary mammals, yet do come with each other to mate and raise your young. In the wilderness, castle breed between March and also May however are more flexible under managed care and may friend at any type of time the the year. One adult female huge anteater offers birth come a solitary baby (twins room rare) while in a was standing position, propped increase by her strong tail. When a pup (baby) is born, it has a full coat that hair and is almost identical to the adult. The pup safety the an initial year the life hitching a ride on that is mother"s back; similar coloring helps the pup blend in so predators can"t check out it. It additionally makes the mom look larger and less tempting come predators. 

For the first four weeks of that is life, the pup never ever leaves the mother. When she lies on her side, the baby tucks itself underneath her front foot to nurse for as much as an hour at a time, drinking around 10 percent the its body weight each day. Once the mother gets as much as walk around, the baby scurries increase her ago and goes along for the ride. Large anteaters do not vocalize much, however the pup have the right to let out a shrill, high-pitched grunt come alert mommy when in distress. After the an initial month, the pup begins to spend an ext time top top the ground, although the still rides ~ above the mother’s back quite frequently. The pup is typically weaned at about nine months of age and leaves its mother when the is complete grown, at about two years of age. 

Giant anteater pups have actually a 50 percent mortality price in the first three month of life. Lock are an extremely susceptible to pneumonia and other health-related problems.

The san Diego Zoo’s first anteaters come from Paraguay in 1937, and we’ve had actually them on and also off end the year since. We welcomed the first birth that a baby giant anteater in ~ our zoo in 1980.

Giant anteaters Lucy and also Kane were component of a group of 14 giant anteaters lugged from Paraguay in 2002 through the Nashville Zoo. Return male giant anteaters are larger than the females, when they come in mountain Diego in 2003, we uncovered that Lucy outweighed Kane through 25 pounds (11 kilograms)! Lucy would certainly not cooperate through Kane during breeding attempts; instead, she would just push him over. Hoping because that a baby and noting Lucy’s calm disposition about her wildlife care specialists, she to be taught to take part voluntarily in ultrasound actions in order come detect a pregnancy. Kane ultimately prevailed, and in 2006, their very first offspring with each other was born. 

Today, Lucy shares a habitat with a male anteater called Orion near Skyfari West, next to the hill lions. Since breeding is unlikely due to Lucy"s age, this is much more of a companion pairing.

Giant anteaters room not endangered yet, but they have already disappeared from much of their habitat because of habitat loss, especially from fires in meadow regions, and also hunting, both because that food and as pests. Vehicles regularly hit the while castle lumber throughout a road, and also they additionally get eliminated by pet dogs. It is approximated that just 5,000 gigantic anteaters space left in the wilderness, when a small number (around 90) live in zoos in the US. 

Giant anteaters have been around for 25 million years, and also we hope the they deserve to nose their way into the next million. By supporting San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, you space our ally in saving and protecting wildlife worldwide. 



Median life expectations is 10.5 years because that females, 14.8 years for males


Gestation: about 190 days

Number that young at birth: typically 1

Weight in ~ birth: 3 pounds (1.4 kilograms)

Age of maturity: 2 to 3 years


Length: 40 come 48 customs (100 to 120 centimeters)

Weight: 60 come 140 pounds (27 to 64 pounds; males room heavier 보다 females

Tail length: 28 come 35 inch (70 come 90 centimeters)


The large anteater"s feeling of smell is 40 times an ext powerful 보다 ours.

A huge anteater is no immune come ant bites, so it feeds at an ant or termite swarm for simply a minute or so before moving on.

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Giant anteaters have actually one of the lowest human body temperatures because that a mammal, 91 degree Fahrenheit (32.7 levels Celsius), presumably in response to their low-calorie insect diet.