Anteaters are funny-looking animals that live in Central and South America. There are four species of anteaters: silky anteater, giant anteater, southern tamandua and northern tamandua. They live in deciduous forests, rainforests, woodlands, and grasslands. Anteaters can be seven feet long, counting from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail (giant anteaters) or small as a squirrel (silky anteaters).
Anteaters are toothless creatures. They use their long, sticky tongue to catch prey. The tongue can be two feet long. It’s narrow and covered with very tiny spines.
Anteaters have four inches long claws, which they use them to defend against cougars and jaguars. Anteaters live up to 25 years in captivity and15 years in the wild. However, some of them are near threatened species.
In this post, we will share with you more interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Anteaters. Enjoy!
1. The size of anteaters varies depending on their species. The silky anteater is about 35 centimeters (14 inches) long; the giant anteater is up to 2.1 meters (7 feet) long including its tail; the northern tamandua is approximately 1.2 meters (3 feet 11 inches) long and the southern tamandua of same dimensions.
2. Instead of hydrochloric acid (usually found in other mammals), the stomach of the anteaters produces formic acid. A specifically designed stomach that grinds plenty of termites and ants facilitates digestion. They can eat up to 30 000 insects a day.
3. Anteaters use their nose to find food. They can detect smell forty times better than humans. They have an excellent sense of smell, but poor eyesight.
4. Their pregnancy lasts 190 days and ends with one baby. Mothers carry the baby on their back during the first year. Little anteater stays with the mother for two years or until she becomes pregnant again.
5. Since they plan to come and eat another portion of ants and termites in the future, anteaters never destroy anthill.
6. Anteaters flick their tongue 150 to 160 times in a minute during feeding to grab enough ants and avoid bites. They must eat them quickly since ants can bite.
7. Anteaters have low body temperature (just 32.70C) compared to other placental mammals.
8. A group of anteaters is known as “parade“. Anteaters are solitary animals and they only gather during mating season.
9. A cornered anteater can rear up on its hind legs, using its tail for balance, and lash out with very dangerous claws. Anteaters aren’t aggressive but they can be fierce.
10. Anteaters are closely related to sloths than they’re to any other group of mammals. Their next closest relations are armadillos.
11. Thousands of tiny hooks called filiform papillae covers the tongue of anteater is covered. They use these hooks to hold the insects together with high amounts of saliva.
12. Anteaters’ long tongues are more than sufficient to lap up 35,000 termites and ants they swallow whole every day. They utilize their sharp claws to tear an opening into an anthill and put their long snout and efficient tongue to work.
13. All four species of anteaters are predominantly nocturnal (active during the night). However, the giant anteater can be diurnal (active during the day) as well. Anteaters sleep up to 15 hours a day.
14. One of the most intriguing facts about anteaters is that these creatures do not limit their diets to insects and ants only. While anteaters might be carnivores, they eat fruit as well. They’re also known to eat fruits. Giant Anteaters eat fruits that have already fallen to the ground. The other three species of anteaters are smaller and therefore climb trees to find fruits to supplement their diet.
15. Anteaters are known for having a weird appearance, part of which is their shaggy fur. The thick fur of anteaters is a form of defense. It protects them from bites and stings from insects while they hunt for their food.