Anteater For Sale

Though the term “anteater” is often applied to a few types of animals, there are four types of actual anteaters; northern, southern, giant, and silky. Part of a once diverse group of mammals from South America, they are closely related to the sloth, with the armadillo being the second closest in relation. The similarity between anteaters and aardvarks and pangolins is why the second is sometimes called “anteaters” and the third is sometimes called “scaly anteaters.” The giant anteater and the aardvark have the common term of “antbear.”

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Physical Characteristics

Anteaters are characterized by their elongated snouts and thin tongue, which can stretch out to be longer than their head (24”). Their mouths are shaped like a tube and they have lips but no teeth. When they look for food, they use their large, curved claws to tear into the tops of ant hills and termite mounds to access the insects. They do not destroy the entire hill, but rather keep most of it intact. They also use these claws along with their fur for defense, specifically from attacks from these insects. They also all have a long prehensile tail, with the exception of the giant anteater. Their size depends on which subspecies they are with the northern and southern anteaters growing to be about 3’11” (characterized by their short fur, which is often tan with a black “vest” around their shoulders, though sometimes, they can be entirely tan or black), the silky anteater growing to be about 14” (colored yellowish to help it blend into its environment of seed masses up in the trees), and the giant anteater (characterized by its gray coloring with a diagonal white-bordered black stipe on each shoulder) growing to be around 5’11.” Adult males are slightly larger and more muscular than adult females. Mothers generally only bear one young per year and their large claws prevent them from grasping their newborns. Because of this, they have to carry them until they are self-sufficient. They have a body temperature that fluctuated between 91-97 degrees F and are able to tolerate greater temperature fluctuations than other mammals because of this. Their daily food intake is barely higher than their energy used during the day and they coordinate their body temperatures for whichever activity they are engaged in, whether it be resting or foraging.

Anteater Diet

When it comes to eating, anteaters’ diet consists of insects, although the type of insect depends on the anteater type. Smaller anteaters prefer insects that live on the surface of small branches and the larger anteaters prefer the insects that live inside nests, as they have the ability to break into the nests. Many of these insects have a bite or a sting to them, though, so anteaters have developed a strategy to deal with the attacks and still have their meal. Instead of feeding off of only one location, they lick up as large a number of ants and termites from one location as possible and then move on to the next hill. To meet their diet needs, they can visit up to 200 nests per day, consuming thousands of insects. To lick up these insects, an anteater relies on its unique tongue. The tongue of an anteater is covered with thousands of tiny hooks called filiform papillae. These, along with large amounts of saliva, are what holds the insects together. This special tongue is attached to the anteater’s sternum and moves quickly, averaging around 150 flicks per minute. Once swallowed, the hardened folds in the anteater’s stomach grind the insects, helped along by small amounts of sand and dirt ingested with the insects.

Location

While they are mostly located in South America, there are some that live farther up in Central America. The silky and northern anteaters live as far north as southeast Mexico, the giant anteaters live as far north as Central America, and southern anteaters’ range extends south to Uruguay. Each group’s, except for the giant anteater, extends to Brazil. Their habitats include dry tropical forests, rainforests, grasslands, and savannas, depending on the group of anteater. The silky anteater lives in the hottest parts of Central and South America and lives only in the trees. The northern and southern anteaters live in both the trees and the ground in dry forests near streams and lakes. The giant anteater lives almost entirely on the ground in savannas. 

Behavior

Anteaters are mostly solitary animals and they each have a specific territory which can stretch from 1 to 1.5 miles. They generally don’t cross into the territory of another anteater outside of mating season, when a male might cross into a female’s territory. When an anteater of the same sex does cross into their territory, they may vocalize, swat, and even sit on or ride the back of their opponent. Because they have poor eyesight, anteaters generally use their excellent sense of smell for defense, as well as feeding and foraging. The giant anteaters as well as the northern and southern anteaters also use their hind legs and tail as a tripod to stand up when threatened, which allows them to use their front claws more freely to fend off attackers. Using their sense of smell to move around, they tend to walk with a shuffle and can accelerate up to a clumsy gallop. As solitary animals, they stay away from other animals, including both their own species and others (including humans). Even when they come together for mating purposes, they are not friendly, being apathetic at best. They only attack when threatened, however, when they do attack, their attacks can be deadly. Because of their large claws, one swipe can be the end of their opponent. Northern and southern anteaters will also release a skunk-like smell to attack, warding off enemies. Because of these traits, they are not a domesticated animal, even for those ambitious animal-lovers.

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