www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/giant-anteater/#:~:text=Anteaters are not aggressive but they can be,can fight off even a puma or jaguar.
- Anteaters are not aggressive but they can be fierce. A cornered anteater will rear up on its hind legs, using its tail for balance, and lash out with dangerous claws. The giant anteater's claws are some four inches long, and the animal can fight off even a puma or jaguar.
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The giant anteater uses its sharp claws to tear an opening into an anthill and put its long snout, sticky saliva, and efficient tongue to work. But it has to eat quickly, flicking its tongue up to...
The giant anteater is commonly hunted in Bolivia, both for sport and sustenance. The animal's thick, leathery hide is used to make equestrian equipment in the Chaco. In Venezuela, it is hunted for its claws. Giant anteaters are killed for safety reasons, due to their reputation as dangerous animals. The giant anteater remains widespread.
Giant Anteater Claw. Reaching lengths of 7 feet (3 feet of which is a long bushy tail), the giant anteater is closely related to sloths and armadillos. Their hind feet have 5 short claws, while their forefeet possess three longer ones. Our claw measures six inches.
- Physical characteristics
- Distribution and habitat
Giant anteaters have a long, distinctive snout with a 2-foot-long tongue and no teeth. They may have diminished senses of hearing and sight, but they have a highly developed sense of smell.
These anteaters are distinctively patterned in various shades of brown with wide, black stripes that run from their upper front legs toward their spine. Their front legs are white, and they have a bushy tail. They have no undercoats to provide warmth; instead they have bristly, short hair on their shoulders and longer hair on their legs and tail, which resembles the texture of a horse's mane.
Giant anteaters protect their sharp front claws by tucking them into their palms and walking on their front knuckles. Their back feet and claws are more similar to bears (they only knuckle walk with their front feet). They walk in a slow, shuffling gait but when necessary can gallop at over 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour). They can also climb and swim. Giant anteaters will avoid threats if possible. If they need to defend themselves, they will rear up, steadying themselves with their large tails, and use their powerful claws. Adult giant anteaters are rarely vocal. If the young do vocalize, it is a high-pitched, shrill grunt. After birth, the young anteater climbs onto the mother's back where it stays for up to a year. As it matures, it becomes independent. A young anteater usually nurses for six months and leaves its mother by age 2. Giant anteater lifestyles appear to depend on the human population density around them. The more populated the area, the more likely the anteaters will be nocturnal; in less populated areas, anteaters are diurnal.
The largest of the four anteater species, giant anteaters reach 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters) in length, including both nose and tail. They weigh between 60 and 100 pounds (27 and 45 kilograms). However, it is nearly impossible to differentiate the adult male from the female using external anatomy alone.
Giant anteaters are found throughout Central and South America except for Guatemala, Uruguay and El Salvador, where they are considered to be extinct. They live in wetlands, grasslands and tropical forests.
Research has found that giant anteaters can identify the particular species of ant or termite by smell before they rip apart the prey's nest. When feeding, sticky saliva coats the tongue. The 2-foot-long tongue is attached to the sternum and can flick in and out up to 150 times per minute. Anteaters feed almost exclusively on ants and termites, whose nests they rip open with their powerful forelimbs and claws, and then ingest with their sticky tongue. They only consume about 140 insects from each mound during a single feeding. They rarely drink, but instead receive their water from the foods they eat or possibly moisture left on plants after rain.
Giant anteaters reach sexual maturity at 3-4 years of age. Gestation lasts about 180 days (six months). They give birth to a single young and suckle the offspring from a pair of mammary glands located on the chest.
- Early history
- Conservation status
Looks can be deceiving: Its name is a hint to one of its favorite foods, and you can't miss its long snout, but there's more to the story of the giant anteater! This unique animal is the largest of the three anteater species (the other two are the tamandua or lesser anteater and the silky anteater). The giant anteater is about the size of a golden retriever, but thick, bushy hair makes it look even bigger. The anteater's gray hair feels like straw and grows especially long on the tail (up to 16 inches or 40 centimeters), and it sports a stylish stripe of black that stretches from under the nose to the middle of the back. This stripe is outlined in white, tan, or gray and goes down to a black ring around the base of the front feet. The hairy, bushy tail is often used as a blanket or sunshade. The giant anteaters elongated head and nose are perfectly designed to get in and out of a termite mound or anthill.
Giant anteaters walk with a slow shuffle on all four legs with their nose pointed to the ground. They dont walk on their feet; instead, with the claws curled up into the feet, anteaters walk on their \\"fists.\\" This helps to keep the claws sharp so anteaters can dig into ant mounds or defend themselves from predators. Anteaters are also good swimmers, using the freestyle stroke and with their long snout as a snorkel.
Can you imagine eating nothing but ants all day long? Giant anteaters have no teeth, but a specialized tongue allows them to eat up to 30,000 ants and termites each day. Giant anteaters range from Honduras in Central America to the Gran Chaco region of Bolivia in South America, and are found in tropical and dry forests, savannas, and grasslands. These animals are perfectly designed to feed on ants, which is great, because ants are a very reliable food source. The anteater's narrow tongue is about 2 feet (60 centimeters) long and is shaped like a strand of spaghetti. This amazing tongue has teeny, backward-pointing spines covered in sticky saliva that aid in feeding. Relying on its acute sense of smell, the giant anteater detects an ant mound and swiftly rips into it with its sharp, formidable claws. It then darts its tongue inside (up to 150 times per minute!), picking up the worker ants with that sticky saliva. The anteater only feeds at one mound for about a minute before moving on. After all, the animal doesn't want to totally wipe out its source of food! With a mouthful of delicious insects, the anteater crushes them against the roof of the mouth, and its very muscular stomach further pulverizes the food. Anteaters may also lick at fallen fruit and eat soft grubs. At the San Diego Zoo, giant anteaters are offered commercial pellets made for insectivores, which gives them the same nutrients they would get in the wild. The pellets are small enough for the anteaters to pick up with their tongue.
Giant anteaters are usually solitary mammals, but do come together to mate and raise their young. In the wild, they breed between March and May but are more flexible in zoos and may mate at any time of the year. An adult female giant anteater gives birth to a single baby (twins are rare) while in a standing position, propped up by her strong tail. When a pup (baby) is born, it has a full coat of hair and is almost identical to the adult. The pup spends the first year of life hitching a ride on its mother's back; similar coloring helps the pup blend in so predators can't see it. It also makes the mother look larger and less tempting to predators. For the first four weeks of its life, the pup never leaves its mother. While she lies on her side, the baby tucks itself underneath her front legs to nurse for up to an hour at a time, drinking about 10 percent of its body weight each day. When the mother gets up to walk around, the baby scurries up her back and goes along for the ride. Giant anteaters do not vocalize much, but the pup can let out a shrill, high-pitched grunt to alert Mom when in distress. After the first month, the pup begins to spend more time on the ground, although it still rides on the mothers back quite frequently. The pup is usually weaned at about nine months of age and leaves its mother when it is full grown, at about two years of age.
Giant anteater pups have a 50 percent mortality rate in the first three months of life. They are very susceptible to pneumonia and other health-related problems.
The San Diego Zoos first anteaters arrived from Paraguay in 1937, and weve had them on and off over the years since. We welcomed the first birth of a baby giant anteater at our zoo in 1980.
Giant anteaters Lucy and Kane were part of a group of 14 giant anteaters imported from Paraguay in 2002 by the Nashville Zoo. Although male giant anteaters are larger than the females, when they arrived in San Diego in 2003, we discovered that Lucy outweighed Kane by 25 pounds (11 kilograms)! Lucy would not cooperate with Kane during breeding attempts; instead, she would just push him over. Hoping for a baby and noting Lucys calm disposition around her keepers, she was trained for ultrasound procedures to detect a pregnancy. Kane finally prevailed, and in 2006, their first offspring together was born. Today, Lucy shares an exhibit with a male anteater named Orion near Skyfari West, next to the mountain lions. Since breeding is unlikely due to Lucy's age, this is more of a companion pairing.
Giant anteaters are not endangered yet, but they have already disappeared from much of their habitat due to habitat loss, especially from fires in grassland regions, and hunting, both for food and as pests. Vehicles often hit the animals while they lumber across a road, and they also get killed by pet dogs. It is estimated that only 5,000 giant anteaters are left in the wild, while a small number (around 90) live in zoos in the US.
Tamanduas move rather awkwardly on the ground and are incapable of galloping like their relative, the giant anteater. Tamanduas walk on the sides of their clenched forefeet to avoid injuring their palms with their sharp claws. Tamanduas manufacture a potent musk in their anal glands which they use for marking territory.
The Giant Anteater is classed as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN. As anteaters are placid creatures they are preyed upon by large cats such as Pumas and Jaguars. However, a cornered anteater will ride up on its hind legs, using its tail for support and use its long claws which are 4 inches long, to fight off the attacker.
Sep 12, 2015 · The giant anteater 's four-inch (ten-centimeter) claws are “so long that they ‘knuckle walk’ on them,” Moore says. Awkward gait aside, the claws are an excellent defense for the toothless anteater,...