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The Anteater: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

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The Anteater

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Have you ever seen Anteaters? If you've seen one we're sure you are pretty interested to know about them and if you haven't, then get to know about them with our fun facts.

There are four Anteater species. You can sometimes see the young ones on top of their mother's back. They have a long snout and a tongue that is the most unusual. It's long, has spines and sticky saliva to keep the insects stuck to their tongues. Anteaters also have the capability to flick their tongue 150 times per minute. They also have an amazing sense of smell. Except for the Giant Anteaters, they have a prehensile tail which they can also use to grab onto things. If you want to go to the wild to see them, then you can go to Mexico, Brazil, South America or Central America. Read on to know more about the Tamandua facts, Silky Anteater facts, and the Giant Anteater facts for kids, adults, and people of all ages. If you like this article, then check out tamandua and short beaked echidna facts too.

 

Anteater Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Anteater?

Anteaters are a group of species among animals that eat insects.

What class of animal does an Anteater belong to?

Anteaters belong to the mammal class of animals.

How many Anteaters are there in the world?

There are four anteater species in the world. Among them, the Southern Tamandua is a relatively common species, whereas the Northern Tamandua is common only in its native land. Not much is known about the population of the Silky Anteater and the population of Giant Anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is decreasing by the day. Overall, the exact population of the anteaters is hard to estimate.

Where does an Anteater live?

Silky Anteaters and the Northern Tamanduas can be seen around southeastern Mexico. Southern Tamanduas can be seen around South America until Uruguay and the Giant Anteater can be seen around Central America. Other than the Northern Tamandua, the rest of the living locations of the three species have overlapped in the east part of Brazil.

What is an Anteater's habitat?

The habitats of the anteaters differ according to the four species. The Silky Anteater is a species that are mostly found in rainforests. The Tamanduas can be found in dry forests near large water bodies and lastly, the Giant Anteater can mainly be found in the grasslands and savannah.

Who do Anteaters live with?

Anteaters are mainly known to be solitary animals. They defend their own territory ferociously. The males of the species enter the female anteater's territory at the time of mating or breeding, but otherwise, one male doesn't enter another male's territory and the one female doesn't enter another female's territory. If someone does enter they will attack them with the foreclaws of their feet and ride on their backs.

How long does an Anteater live?

The four different species of anteater's lifespan are different. The Silky Anteater's lifespan is about two years which is the shortest. The Southern Tamandua's lifespan is about nine years and the Northern Tamandua's lifespan is about 9.5 years. The Giant Anteater's lifespan is the longest, being 14-16 years.

How do they reproduce?

Not much is known about the breeding of the Anteaters, but for all the species the fertilization happens due to contact transfer which is somewhat similar to what can be seen in some species of lizards. The gestation period for the Anteaters varies according to the different species but on average, it is about 120-190 days. Generally, the females have one baby. After the baby is born, the mother usually can't nurse the baby due to the long foreclaws on their feet. Hence, the baby has to climb up the mother's back till they are mature enough to tend to their own.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the Anteaters is generally Least Concern, except the Giant Anteater. The Giant Anteater's conservation status according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature is Decreasing. The main threat to this superfamily of species is losing their habitats because of humans.

Anteater Fun Facts

What do Anteaters look like?

All the species of the Anteaters have a long snout on the head. Some longer than the others. They have lips but they don't have any teeth. These animals have a tongue that is longer than their head. The tongue has thousands of little hooks through which they pull many insects out even though they put their tongue in the nests of the ants or termites and out very quickly. They have thick and long fur which helps them in case of termites or ants attack. They have long and strong foreclaws on their feet to help defend themselves. Other than the Giant Anteater, others have a prehensile tail. The Giant Anteater of the family Myrmecophagidae has a long bushy tail.

Anteater

How cute are they?

The Tamanduas can seem a little cute owing to their panda-like features. Other than that, they are not that cute with their long snout and long tongue. They are usually not aggressive except when they feel threatened. Overall, they are not considered cute.

How do they communicate?

Anteaters can't see properly but they have a great sense of smell through which they move and find their food or sense if they are somehow in danger. The other times, they let others know of their presence through urine and tree markings. Other than that, mainly at the times of stating their presence or at the mating season, they communicate through the secretions from the anal glands.

How big is an Anteater?

The size of all the species of the Anteaters ranges from medium to large animals. The average size is about 70-86 in (1.8-2.2 m).

How fast can an Anteater move?

Anteaters move in a very slow manner. However, if they feel threatened or in a moment of need, they can gallop. Their speed at that time can reach up to 30 mph (48 kph).

How much does an Anteater weigh?

On average, an Anteater weighs about 3.3-90 lb (1.5-41 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female of any of the species.

What would you call a baby Anteater?

The babies of an anteater are mainly called pups.

What do they eat?

The Anteater mainly eats insects, like ants and termites, and hence their name. They move their tongues in a quick swoop in the nests of the insects. They can flick their tongues up to 150 times per minute. The tongue also has sticky saliva which helps with the insects sticking to it until it reaches the mouth. The side-to-side movements of the jaw help with the movement of the tongue in the mouth and swallowing of the insects. They have also been seen eating fruits at times.

Are they dangerous?

Anteaters are not an aggressive bunch of animals unless they are threatened in any way. If they are threatened, they can stand up on their hind legs while balancing on their tail and they would attack the predator with their long and strong nails. For reference, the Giant Anteater has four inches long nails. They can certainly go up against predators that are bigger and more dangerous than them. If any human tries to threaten them, they can not only injure us, but they have the ability to kill a human being too. That said, they are only dangerous if they sense danger or feel threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

There are many anteaters staying in zoos across the world and they even live longer in captivity, but a zoo can provide the required environment, habitat, and food, whereas the same cannot be said about homes. They are also solitary animals and they are very protective of their territories. So, not much can be said about how much they will be able to live with humans alongside them. They are animals of the wild. So, we recommend that you don't try to keep them as pets.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The spiny Anteater tongues can be about two feet long. They are the mammal that has the longest of tongues with these two feet long tongues.

They visit up to 200 ants and termites nests at times, so that they get the required amount of food they need for their body.

They have the lowest body temperature amongst all mammals. The temperature stays somewhere between 90-95 °F (33-36 °C).

The Anteater can be seen hunted by humans for sport or sometimes for their skin.

The smelling ability of an Anteater is 40 times stronger than we humans.

The stomach of an Anteater produces formic acid rather than hydrochloric acid to help with their digestion and they have hardened folds in their stomach which grinds the ants and other insects along with the help of the dirt and sand that they swallow.

Anteaters can sleep long and hard. When they sleep, they can sleep up to 15 hours.

Different types of Anteater

The different types of Anteaters are firstly the Silky Anteater, which is a bit smaller in size than the others and these Silky Anteaters also have the smallest of snouts. Then, the Giant Anteater is the largest amongst the Anteaters and is the only one that doesn't have a prehensile tail. The others are Northern and Southern Tamandua, which have panda-like features on their body.

Aardvark vs. Anteater

Aardvarks are insectivores just as the Anteaters but there are many differences. Aardvarks are nocturnal in nature whereas the Anteaters are diurnal. There is only one species of Aardvark, whereas there are four species of Anteaters. Aardvarks have teeth and long ears, whereas Anteaters have shorter ears and no teeth. Both species have long snouts.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including mongrel, or plains zebra.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Anteater coloring pages.

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