Giant Anteater Facts
|Size||Up to 6.8 ft (2.10 m) (total)|
|Speed||Up to 19 mph (30 km/h)|
|Weight||Up to 110 lb (50 kg)|
|Predators||Cougars, snakes, jaguars|
|Habitat||Central and South America|
|Scientific name||Myrmecophaga tridactyla|
|Characteristics||Tube-shaped snout, long tongue|
The giant anteater is a diurnal mammal living in the grassy landscapes and savannahs of South and Central America.
The tongue of the anteater can be up to 24 inch (60 cm) long. Therefore, the anteater is one of the mammals with the longest tongues. With its width of 0.4-0.6 inch (10-15 mm) it is extremely narrow and can strike up to 160 times per minute. Ants and termites, which have got caught in the sticky saliva, are being stripped off inside the mouth, when the anteater retracts its tongue, before making their way into the stomach as a favorite snack. Yummy!
The anteater devours up to 30,000 insects per day.
Riot of the Ants
Despite their rough coat and thick skin, anteaters can be attacked by ant soldiers and termites – successfully. They use formic acid, which even hurts an anteater in the long run. This is the reason why the anteater attacks quickly and fiercely in order to gulp down the insects before they are able to defend themselves.
The noses of anteaters are 40 times more sensitive than those of human beings.
Anteaters do not tread on the balls of their feet while walking, but on their knuckles, so that the big claws do not wear off by touching the ground. Finally, the anteater needs its claws to dig holes and to defend itself.
Why Does the Anteater Have Such a Long Tail?
The long tail functions like kickstand: When the anteater rises up on its hind legs, it presses the tail against the ground to keep its balance.
Getting Tired From Slurping Ants
Anteaters sleep 15 hours a day and are one of the species that spend most of the time sleeping.
Anteaters are loners and only get together during the mating season. After about 190 days the female anteater gives birth to a single baby. When coming into the world it weighs between 2.4 and 3.5 lb (1.1 and 1.6 kg) and opens its eyes after about 6 days. Up to an age of 12 months, it normally rides on its mother’s back. Anteaters have grown up at an age of 2-4 years.