About animals

Genus: Tamandua Gray, 1825 = Tamandua, four-fingered anteaters


A giant or large anteater is one of the most unusual representatives of the animal world. Sometimes it is called an ugly creature, and sometimes the exotic physique of an animal is recognized as particularly attractive. Anteaters are even tamed and kept at home instead of cats and dogs.

Description of the Great Anteater

The anteater is a large land animal, the size of a large dog. The length of a narrow slender body is from 1 to 1.3 m, the head is long, tube-shaped, the tail length is in the range from 0.65 to 0.9 m. The weight of adults is 30-35 kg. Ears, mouth and eyes are small. No teeth. The tongue reaches 60 cm in length, narrow, sticky. The forelimbs are powerful, well suited for digging, four-fingered, claws up to 10 cm long are located on the second and third fingers. Five fingers are on the hind limbs. The anteater is colored brown, with dark wedge-shaped stripes that extend from the throat and shoulders to the sides. The coat is hard, similar to straw to the touch, very short on the head, on the back forms a mane about 25 cm in length, the length of the hair on the tail reaches 40 cm.

Nutrition Features of the Great Anteater

According to its name, anteaters feed on the species of ants that live in the earth. Termites and traveling ants are rarely eaten.

With the help of his well-developed sense of smell, the anteater finds an anthill, rakes part of it with its claws, and in the resulting course they stick their narrow muzzle with a sticky long tongue, ants get out. Further, the animal draws its tongue with adherent insects, cleans them in the mouth with the help of horn nipples located on the palate and inside on the cheeks. The anteater draws its tongue into its mouth up to 160 times per minute, each time at the same time moistening it with fresh sticky saliva. Ants do not get chewed into the animal’s stomach and are rubbed by its strong muscular walls. Inside, the stomach also has a keratinized lining. An adult anteater eats about 30,000 ants a day, but it does not destroy the entire anthill.

Also, the diet of anteaters includes insect larvae, wood lice, millipedes, fruits and bird eggs. Sometimes anteaters even eat palm tree fruits, which serve as a source of moisture and vitamins for them, for this the animal tears coconuts with its sharp claws.

Common Anteater Species

The family of mammals of the order of anteaters (Myrmecophagidae) includes 2 genera, 3 species, and 11 subspecies that are common in Central and South America.

The giant anteater is the only representative of the genus giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga).

The genus of four-fingered anteaters or tamandua (Tamandua) includes the species Mexican Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) and Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla).

The genus of dwarf anteaters (Cyclopes) is one species of dwarf anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus).

Mexican Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana)

The body length of the animal is about 77 cm, the tail is from 40 to 67 cm long. The muzzle is elongated, curved, the mouth is small, the tongue reaches 40 cm in length. The back with pronounced dark longitudinal strips that extend to the shoulders and cover the front legs, like a vest . The rest of the body is light, from white to brown. The anal gland of the Mexican tamandua secrets a secret with an unpleasant odor, which is why the animal is called the "forest stink."

The habitat of the species includes Central America to the southeast of Mexico, South America to the west of the Andes from Venezuela to the north of Peru.

Tamandua or four-fingered anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla)

Body length from 54 to 88 cm, tail in length from 40 to 49 cm. Weight is 4-5 kg. The tip of the tail is naked. The front legs are four-fingered, the hind legs are five-fingered. The coat is short, stiff and thick, bristling. In the southeast of the range, animals have pronounced dark stripes along the back, which expand to the shoulders and cover the front legs. The body color is from white to brown.

Distributed in South America east of the Andes, southern Colombia, and from Venezuela through Brazil to northern Argentina. Lives in forests, fringes and savannahs near water bodies at altitudes up to 2000 m above sea level.

Dwarf or two-fingered anteater (Cyclopes didactylus)

The smallest representative of anteaters with a body length of 36 to 45 cm (tail length of about 18 cm), weight 270-400 g. The coat is brown in color with a golden hue, the soles of the feet and the tip of the nose are red. The muzzle ends with a short trunk. There are no teeth, the tongue is long, sticky. The tail is tenacious with a bare tip. Forelegs four-fingered, five on hind fingers.

The species is found in Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil and Paraguay. The locals know the animal under the name "Miko Dorado".

Great Anteater Behavior

Large anteaters lead a terrestrial lifestyle. They do not know how to climb trees, unlike, for example, dwarf anteaters. The anteater is difficult to walk on the ground due to very long claws, he is forced to bend his claws, leaning on the back of the forelimbs. At the same time, with its claws the anteater defends itself from enemies, with one stroke of its strong paw the animal is able to gut the dog.

The main period of activity of the great anteater falls at twilight and night time, in uninhabited areas it can remain active during the day. At this time, anteaters send in search of food in sparsely populated areas. Running anteater slowly. While resting, he lays on his side, sticks his head between the forelimbs and covers himself with his magnificent tail. On such a "overnight" can get anywhere on the road. The duration of sleep of this species of animals is about 16 hours a day.

Reproduction of a large anteater

The breeding season of the great anteater is in spring and autumn. The duration of pregnancy is about 180 days. Childbirth occurs while standing, one baby is born who is immediately able to independently stand on his mother’s back. The structure and color of the coat of the newborn completely coincides with the maternal, due to which predators practically cannot distinguish it on the female. Milk feeding continues the first six months of the baby's life. At the age of 2 years, a large anteater begins independent life.

The natural enemies of the great anteater

A large anteater is attacked by all predatory mammals that live in the forests of South America. The animal cannot escape from them by flight, and therefore it meets the attacker face to face, sits on its hind legs and exposes the forepaws with spread sharp claws. Even jaguars are afraid to get such a powerful paw punch with claws about 10 cm long.

Interesting facts about the great anteater:

  • The giant anteater is a rare species that is listed in the International Red Book.
  • The tongue of the anteater during feeding works with amazing speed. In a minute, the animal throws it out and pulls it back up to 160 times. Thanks to this speed, an adult anteater eats up to 30,000 ants per day!
  • The length of the tongue of the giant anteater reaches 61 cm, this is a record figure among terrestrial animals.


Myrmecophagids are medium and large animals, with distinctly elongated snouts and long narrow tongues. They have powerful claws on their toes, allowing them to copy open mounds of termites and nest ants to eat insects inside. They have no teeth, but they produce a lot of sticky saliva into an insect trap, as well as pointing back the spine in their tongues. Ants and termites are almost their only food in the wild, and their main source of water, although they sometimes drink free-standing water, and sometimes eat fruit.


Most myrmecophagids are solitary encounters only to mating. Myrmecophagids are polygamous and men generally do not play any role in caring for the young. The male dwarf anteater is an exception and helps feed its young. The gestation period of myrmecophagids ranges from 120-190 days. Myrmecophagids usually gives birth to one offspring at a time, and the wolf cub lives his mother back for 6-9 months after birth. Myrmecophagids have such sharp claws that they cannot touch their young without causing damage.

Evolutionary history

Myrmecophagids belong to the Xenarthra order, formerly known as Edentata. Xenarthra also includes sloths and armadillos. Upper teeth (meaning without teeth) deviated from insectivores during the Cretaceous, about 135 million years ago. The fossils of the family of anteater dates back to the early Miocene period in South America, about 25 million years ago. Throughout their evolutionary history, myrmecophagids have maintained a narrow range, although at some point their range may be expanded to northern Mexico.


  • Order: Toothless
    • Suborder: Folivora
    • Suborder: Vermilingua
      • Family: Cycloped>

      Wikidow have information related to anteater
      Wikimedia Commons has related media anteater .

      "Anteaters (anteaters)." Web Animal Variety . November 8, 2015.

      "Anteaters: Anteater - Behavior and Reproduction." - Women, Silky, Claws, and Birth . November 8, 2015.

      “Anteater Internet.” Anteater Online . November 8, 2015.

      Types and photos of anteaters

      Anteater belongs to the class of mammals of the family of anteaters, an order of not-toothed. The family includes 3 modern genera:

      1) The genus Anteater giant (Myrmecophaga Linnaeus) is represented by the species Anteater giant (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).

      The body length of this species is 1-1.9 m, weight 18–39 kg. The body is compressed laterally, the neck is elongated, expands greatly to the base. The tail is long. Paws are five-fingered, front ones are longer than hind ones.

      In the photo, the giant anteater demonstrates its magnificent tail.

      A giant representative of the family inhabits South America east of the Andes, south to Argentina and Uruguay, as well as the southern part of Central America. Lives in a variety of biotypes from marshy plains and pampas to tropical rainforests.

      2) The genus Anteaters four-fingered (Tamandua Gray) is represented by the species Anteater four-fingered, or Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla).

      Body length 53–88 cm, weight 3.6–8.4 kg. On the forelimbs, 4 fingers are armed with long claws, on the back all five fingers with short claws. The tail is long, its tip is bare, able to grasp the branches of trees.

      In the photo is the anteater Tamandua: on trees he is as comfortable as on earth.

      Tamandua lives in Central and South America to the north of Argentina and Uruguay. It is widespread in various types of forests, trying to stay in areas near water with thickets of climbing plants. It can climb mountains up to 2000 m.

      3) The genus Dwarf Anteaters (Cyclopes Gray) is represented by the dwarf Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus).

      Body length 15–20 cm, weight not more than 400 grams. The body is cylindrical. The limbs are five-fingered. The tail is longer than the body, with a wide base, grasping, at the end of the tail there is a bare section.

      Anteaters are the only representatives of the Toothless (Xenarthra), (which along with them include sloths, armadillos, and extinct glyptodonts), who have no teeth.

      The muzzle of animals is disproportionately long, the head of a gigantic species exceeds 30 cm. The mouth gap is very narrow. The tongue is narrow and round in cross section and is very long: in the tamandua, it extends 40 cm, and in the giant anteater, up to 61 cm.

      The giant and dwarf species have the largest claws on the second and third fingers, and the tamandua have the second, third and fourth. When moving, animals bend and tuck their fingers inward, avoiding the contact of sharp claws with the ground.

      Only a giant anteater can boast of long and elastic coat, while in other species the coat is short.

      Based on small differences in color, the giant anteaters are divided into three subspecies, and the Mexican Tamandua - by 5.

      The bulk of the giant-looking coat is painted silver-gray. Color variations depend on the size and intensity of the dark color of the “vest”, however, such a color in one way or another is inherent in all individuals.

      Tamandois has a very wide variety of color variations. In the animals of the northern part of the range, the skin is uniformly light, and in the southern part with a pronounced dark “vest”. Differences between species are most pronounced at the boundaries of their ranges. In the northern regions, anteaters have a uniformly golden color or with a dark strip on their backs, but as they move south they become more gray and with a darker strip on their backs.

      Anteater Diet

      The diet of these mammals consists exclusively of social insects, primarily ants and termites, and such a diet requires adaptation not only of the masticatory apparatus and digestive tract, but also of behavior, metabolic rate, and mode of movement. The giant species eats large ants and termites, the tamandua medium, and the dwarf specializes in the smallest. Tamandua, for example, usually eats up to 9 thousand ants per day, and a giant can eat 30 thousand ants per day.

      These animals are picky and avoid swallowing soldier ants, as well as chemical ants and termites.

      Usually, anteaters do not drink, but are content with the water received with food.

      The method of absorption of food is unique among mammals. Anteaters contract the masticatory muscles in order to invert the halves of the lower jaw, and thus open the mouth. The mouth is closed by pterygoid muscles. The result is a simplified and minimal movement of the jaws, consistent with the movement of the tongue in and out. This technique allows for almost continuous swallowing and maximizes the rate of food intake. These movements of the tongue are controlled by a special muscle, which is attached to the base of the sternum.

      Another unique feature of anteaters is the absence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which should help digestion. And it replaces formic acid from food.

      All anteaters have a low metabolic rate, while giant members of the family have the lowest body temperature among placental mammals (32.7 ° C). Tamandua and dwarf species are slightly higher in body temperature.

      Anteater lifestyle

      All species lead a solitary lifestyle.

      A giant anteater lives on the earth and feeds mainly during the day, although if it is disturbed by people, it switches to night activity.

      Tamandua can be active at any time of the day, he is equally good both on the ground and on the trees.

      The dwarf species leads a completely arboreal lifestyle, active mainly at night.

      All species can dig, climb and walk on the ground. However, the giant anteater rarely climbs, preferring to stay on the ground, while the dwarf anteater, on the contrary, is comfortable on the trees, they reluctantly descend to the ground.

      Tamandua arrange nests in hollows of trees, giant dig small recesses in the ground, in which they can rest up to 15 hours a day. For disguise, they cover the body with a huge shaggy tail. Dwarf anteaters usually sleep, clutching a branch and wrapping their tail around their hind legs.

      Individual plots of giant family members in places of abundance of food can be an area of ​​only 0.5 km2. Such sites are, for example, in tropical forests on the island of Barro Colorado (Panama). But in those places where there are not so many ants and termites, one giant anteater may need up to 2.5 hectares.


      In giant species and tamandua, the mating season falls in autumn, and in the spring a single cub is born. The baby appears mature and already has sharp claws.With the help of claws, a small anteater almost immediately after birth climbs onto the mother’s back. The baby eats milk for about six months, but can remain with his mother for another 1.5 years until puberty is reached.

      The cubs of the giant anteater are exact copies of the parents, and the Tamandois babies are not very similar to their parents, their color can vary from white to black.

      In dwarf anteaters, mating occurs most often in spring, sometimes in autumn. Both mother and father carry cubs on themselves and feed them with belched semi-digested ants.


      In the natural habitat for giant anteaters, only cougars and jaguars are dangerous, but since our hero is able to fend for himself, they usually prefer not to mess with them. When repelling the attack, the animals stand on their hind legs and desperately chop the enemy with claws reaching a length of 10 cm. They can even squeeze and crush the enemy.

      Dwarf anteaters are less fortunate: in nature, even birds of prey and boas constitute a danger to them. But even these little ones try to defend themselves: in danger, they stand on their hind legs in a protective stance, and their front legs with long claws are held in front of the muzzle. And tamandua also use a strong smell emitted by the anal gland as an additional protection.

      Conservation in nature

      Locals rarely hunt anteaters for meat, tamandua skins are used in artisanal leather production, but only slightly. However, the giant anteater has disappeared from most of the historical range in Central America due to the destruction of habitats and human activity. In South America, anteaters are often hunted for trophies; they are caught by animal traders. In some parts of Peru and Brazil, they were completely exterminated.

      Tamandua is also subjected to persecution - he effectively defends himself, so they hunt him with dogs. Tamandua often die under the wheels of cars. However, the most serious threat to these animals is the loss of habitat and the destruction of the few insect species that they can feed on.


      Fashion for exotic animals does not stand still. Many animals, which were recently considered outlandish, have now settled in city apartments and private homes. One of the most popular today is the four-fingered anteater Tamandua (lat. Tamandua).

      He always looks pretty funny and cheerful, resembling a cute plush toy. If you do not offend him, then his friendliness and affection for his master simply has no boundaries.

      True, with any attempt to doubt its beauty and angelic nature, the animal responds with powerful gas attacks with a strong smell of musk, which can remain in the apartment for several days in a row. For this reason, keeping it at home is recommended only to those who cannot imagine their lives without a personal domestic anteater.


      The body length of tamandua reaches 90 cm. The animal weighs up to 5 kg. The body with the head has a length of 78 cm, and the tail is from 40 to 66 cm. At the end of a long curved muzzle there is a small mouth opening through which only the tongue up to 40 cm can pass.

      The four-fingered anteater has a tail bared from below and at the end. His Mexican counterpart (Tamandua mexicana) has completely no tail hair. The small eyes of the anteater indicate his poor eyesight, and the large ears of the animal indicate his good hearing.

      The front paws end with four clawed fingers. On the middle finger is the largest claw, reaching a length of 10 cm. Five clawed fingers on the hind legs. In order not to get hurt with its sharp and long claws, the animal walks on the outside of the foot.

      Tamandua has no teeth. Caught in the tongue of ants, he frays his jaws. The stomach, equipped with dense muscles, finally deals with the incoming food.


      If the danger has caught the beast on a tree branch, it is attached to it with its hind legs and tail, if this happened below, it rests its back on the nearest support and frees the front limbs for battle. Sometimes he can fall on his back and defend himself from the enemy with all four paws.

      The female becomes sexually mature by one year. Throughout the year, she can conceive a baby, although in a natural habitat, the mating season falls at the beginning of autumn. After about 150 days, one cub is born, very rarely there are twins. For some time, the baby is located on the back of his matter and accompanies it everywhere.

      The main food of tamandua is ants.

      He finds the location of his dinner with the help of developed sense of smell. With sharp clawed legs, he rakes an anthill and catches insects on a long tongue. In captivity, the diet can be varied with bees, honey, meat and fruits.

      As a pet, it is most popular in the southern United States and Mexico. In captivity, the tamandua anteater can live a maximum of 9.5 years.

      Edit Origin

      Known from the Lower Miocene.

      In primitive times, Brazil lived an indeterminate rhinoceros-sized and even larger. At present, the largest representatives of this detachment are growing from a large wolf.

      Among extinct species, there are connecting links between families, representatives of which are found in our days. Now, these families seem completely unrelated.

      These are now inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but the fossil remains of anteaters have been found in Europe. Once there were gigantic anteaters, twice the size of the current giant anteater.

      Edit Brief description

      The anteaters' body is elongated, the head and especially the muzzle are very elongated. The length of the body is 15-120 cm, the tail is up to 90 cm. The end of the muzzle is tubular in most.

      The tail reaches almost half the length of the body.

      Thick tousled fur covers the body and especially its upper part.

      The hind limbs are thinner and weaker than the front. Both the front and rear legs have five toes, which, however, are not all armed with claws. The claws on the front legs are long, bent and sharp.

      The mouth opening is very narrow, and the tongue is long, thin, rounded and worm-shaped, serves for catching insects, mainly ants and termites. Ears and eyes are very small.

      Even more amazing is the structure of the skull of the anteaters. Due to the elongation of the front part, the muzzle is long, tubular, intermaxillary bone is very small, bent and connected to the upper jaw only by cartilage. There are no teeth.

      Special muscles control a very long, round tongue, seated with sharp, like horny outgrowths, small spikes. Extremely developed salivary glands constantly secrete sticky mucus that covers the tongue.

      15-18 spinal vertebrae are equipped with ribs, in addition, there are 2-6 lumbar, 4-6 sacral and 29-40 caudal. The ribs are so wide that their edges cover each other, and all the gaps between the bones disappear. The clavicle in two species of anteaters is underdeveloped, but in one species, on the contrary, it is very developed, the bones of the forelimbs are extremely thick.

      The heart is relatively small. Arteries form wonderful networks in the hips.

      Edit Giant Anteater

      The length of his body reaches 110-130 cm. The tail, taking into account the hair, reaches 95 cm, often somewhat more. The mass of an adult is up to 40 kg, the total body length from the nose to the tip of the tail is about 2.3 m.

      Leads a terrestrial lifestyle. Walking on the ground with such long claws is difficult, and the anteaters are forced to bend their claws and rely on the back of their forepaws. But with such claws it is easy to defend oneself from enemies - with one paw strike a large anteater is able to gut the dog. Even the jaguar - the largest predator of South America - prefers not to mess with these animals.

      He constantly wanders in search of food in sparsely populated places, day and night. Having discovered the construction of termites or anthill, with the blow of his front paws, he even destroys the solid walls of termite mounds. Retracting the tongue with adherent insects, he cleans them in the mouth with the so-called tongue brush. In a day, the anteater eats up to 30,000 ants and termites. He also eats worms, large insect larvae and berries, which he sometimes captures with his lips.

      The anteater often rests, lying on its side anywhere on its path, with its head between its front legs.

      Mating occurs in spring and autumn, pregnancy lasts about 6 months, one cub is born, well developed, covered with hair, weighing 1.5 kg. The female gives birth while standing, and the newborn climbs onto the mother’s back. Up to a month or more, the cub travels on the mother’s back, then begins to run a little, but only at the age of two it becomes completely independent.

      Edit South Tamandois

      Body length 54–58 cm, tail of the same length, weight 3-5 kg.

      It prefers the edges of the forest, found in park savannas and gardens. In search of food, he sets off in the evening and moves slowly, heavy gait on the ground. With fright, the tamandua rises to its hind legs, resting on its tail.

      It creeps slowly through the trees, using paws and a tenacious tail. Finding a wood anthill or termite mound, it destroys the claws of the forepaws of the building and pulls out insects with its long sticky tongue.

      In spring, the female brings one cub, which rides on the mother’s back for a long time. However, when looking for food, the mother often sits him on a branch and takes it on his back again, setting off on a further journey.

      Edit North Tamandois

      Body length - 47–70 cm, tail - 40–67 cm. Body weight from 2 to 7 kg.

      Northern Tamandois most of the time spends on trees in search of food or resting in the hollows. Clumsy gait on the outside of the foot moves along the ground.

      These are solitary animals, hissing sounds or a strong smell secreted from the anal glands are a means of communication.

      Edit area

      Distributed from southern Mexico to Paraguay.

      A giant anteater inhabits shrubbery savannas and park forests from Costa Rica (Central America) to Gran Chaco (Argentina).

      Southern tamandua lives in the forests of South and Central America (north to southern Mexico and south to southern Paraguay).

      Northern Tamandua is distributed from Southeast Mexico to the south through Central America to Northern Venezuela and Northern Peru. Inhabit various forests and savannahs. Keep close to ponds.

      The dwarf anteater lives in the forests of South and Central America, from southern Mexico to central Brazil and Bolivia.

      Four-toed Tamandua Anteaters

      The body length of tamandua, as a rule, does not exceed 70 cm, weight - up to 6 kg. This allows many lovers of exotic to keep at home a little anteater like a cat or dog. When I picked up photographs for this article, I found a lot of photographs in which anteaters (animals!) Are dressed in suits, sneakers, skirts ... on the neck of the animal there are beads, then the symbolism of some musical groups ... I don’t know what to think ... I think this is a terrible mockery of an animal ...

      In addition, anteaters extremely difficult to endure the conditions of captivity, although they seem to their owners contented and affectionate. In fact, the fact that long-nosed handsome men like to sleep on a hostile pillow or under a blanket, and when they fall on a man’s knees, curl up in a ball and fall asleep is not a sign of their ardent love for the owner. Rather, it is a love of soft bedding and warmth.

      The favorite habitats of the small four-fingered anteater tamandua are savannas, parks, gardens and forest edges. The main condition is the presence of a nearby source or a small river.

      This animal is worthy of all praises, because it quickly learns everything new. It is easily trained, quickly remembers words and commands.

      The tails of these funny animals seem completely unnecessary devices. This opinion is erroneous, for the tail of the anteater plays a huge role for him! Thanks to their tails, animals, like little monkeys, can climb snags and trees.

      On the ground they walk dangerous and uncomfortable. Here they are clumsy, clubfoot, slow. Claws prevent them from walking in the usual way for all other mammals. You have to move on the outer sides of the feet, which, admittedly, is absolutely inconvenient.

      If the four-fingered anteater saw danger - his first reaction: to freeze and pretend to be a bush. Often this technique works and the animal, after waiting a while, continues to move. If necessary, the tamandua can stand up for its life: leaning back and leaning on the tail, the animal launches strong front legs with powerful claws. He strongly squeezes the body of the opponent and violently wields claws.

      Believe me, this is very effective! Sometimes even animals that are twice the size of tamandua are thrown down.

      Animals in captivity add eggs, fruits, porridge and minced meat to the diet. And once, on a tour of the zoo, we saw the process of preparing food for the anteater. The spectacle is strange - as a result of mixing all the ingredients, a mess of a nightmarish appearance is obtained, which, nevertheless, anteaters can even taste.

      The way the anteater ate is a separate story. I regret that I did not take the meal to the video camera, because the kid rushed to the bowl with the speed of lightning, turned it over and began to absorb his food with great speed. Food scattered in different directions, the employee also got a considerable portion. Zoo technicians try to put a bowl and fly out of the cage with an anteater, but they do not always have time.

      All anteaters have a very well-developed sense of smell.

      In a dream, anteaters sweetly fall asleep.

      Pregnancy lasts about 5 months, after which a 1- (extremely rare - two) baby is born. Kids for a long time do not part with their mother, riding on her back. If mother needs to climb into any high and uncomfortable place for climbing, she lays the cub in a safe fork in the branches and goes after the prey. Having returned and feeding her child, mother Tamandua again sets up the baby on her back.

      Close relatives of Tamandois are sloths, who also love to sleep longer.