Facts and Knowledge:

The toothless giant anteater, found in South America spends its day shuffling awkwardly along, sniffing the ground with its long snout in search of ant nests.  The giant anteater's diet consists mainly of ground dwelling ants, ALthough it will occasionally eat termites and army ants.  The anteaters acute sense of smell detects the ants.  Its long claws are used to get into the nests.  It catches the ants. The largest of the four types of anteater, it lives and feeds on the ground. Its smaller relatives spend much of their time in trees.

Habitat: The giant anteater lives solitary life. It is rarely seen with another anteater.  When two animals are together, it is either for the purpose of mating or it is a mother with her young.  Its habitat includes the rain forest, grasslands, and mixed forest and semiarid regions of Central and South America. It spends its day searching for food with the help of it exceptional sense of smell and hearing.  Its range is usually about one half square mile.  In areas where food is less abundant, it could be one mile.

At night, the giant anteater will either scrape out a hollow in the soil in which to sleep or it will use the existing burrow of another animal.  When it sleeps, it curls it bushy tail, which is almost as long as it body, around itself to keep warm.

Breeding: Little is known about the courtship and mating habits of giant anteaters. It is believed that males and females come together only to mate.  The mother carries the young inside her for 190 days.  The mother gives birth while standing and will use her long tail like a third leg for support.

At birth, the baby immediately scrambles onto its mothers back.  It has a complete coat of fur that is so similar in color to its mother's that the youngsters is often difficult to recognize when it is with its mother.  The mother suckles her young for about six months. During this time, the baby will cling to its mothers back, although it is able to walk a month after birth.

Giant anteaters are usually silent, but a youngster will whistle shrilly when it is let alone.  The offspring is slow to mature; it does not become independent until the mother is pregnant again and will not feed on it own until it is two years old.

Food & Hunting:  The giant anteaters diet consists mainly of ground dwelling ants, although it will occasionally eat termites and army ants.  The anteaters acute sense of smell detects the ants.  Its long claws are used to get into the nests. It catches the ants with its long, sticky tongue.  Its gets most of the moisture it needs from its food, which includes fruit and larvae.

The giant anteater is prey to jaguars and other larger cats, although its coat of dense hair gives it good camouflage. It will hunt then and with them it can inflict serious wounds on a predator.

Key Facts: Sizes, Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species

Body Length: 40 - 48 inches
Tail Length: 28 - 35 in
Weight: 44 - 90 lbs. Males slightly heavier than females

Breeding:
Sexual Maturity:  2  to 3 years
Mating: March to May
Gestation: 190 days
No of young:  usually 1

Lifestyle:
Habit: Solitary; nocturnal near towns, but a daytime feeder in remote areas.
Diet: Ground dwelling ants.
Life span: 26 years in captivity.

Related Species: The Northern and Southern tamanduas (T. mexicana, T. tetradactyla), and the silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus).

Distribution:  The giant anteater and the other three species of anteater live only in Central and South America.

Conservation: The giant anteater is the most vulnerable species of anteater and is likely to become in danger of extinction in the next few years., unless measures are taken NOW.

Special adaptations of the Giant Ant Eater:

Tongue: Covered in tiny spines and housed in the snout, it can be pushed 2 feet out of the mouth and down into the ant nest.  The spines point backward and are covered in a sticky substance during feeding.  Making escape for the ants impossible.
Claws: Each forepaw has five strong, sharp claw used for protection or to dig into the ground for ants.  The anteater walks on its knuckles to protect its claws.

Did you know:
The giant anteaters sense of smell is 40 times more powerful than mans.
The giant ant eater is from the order Edentata which means "without teeth".
The body temperature of the giant anteater is one 32 - 35 Degrees, which enables it to survive on the low caloric content of its food.
A early form of anteater was known to have existed some 20 million years ago.
A giant anteater will sleep up to 15 hours a day.


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