About animals

Dwarf or two-fingered anteater (Cyclopes didactylus)


The smallest member of the anteater family lives in South and Central America. This miracle of nature can be found in tropical forests on a fairly vast territory, starting from the south of Mexico and ending with Brazil. Dwarf anteater (lat. Cyclopes didactylus) was also seen in Paraguay.

It cannot be confused with the usual anteater, first of all, due to its small size. This crumb is only 36 - 45 centimeters in length, and of these 45 centimeters, 18 fall on the tail. Dwarf anteaters weigh up to 400 g.

Nature awarded this ant lover with a proboscis, a pretty brown skin cast in gold, and a red nose. The soles of the anteater's paws, by the way, are also red. On the front legs of this animal you can see four fingers, and on the hind legs - five. Also on the front legs of the anteater there are two impressive claws, for which he was nicknamed two-fingered.

A dwarf anteater is devoid of teeth, like other representatives of his family, but he does not need them, because a long sticky tongue is much more convenient and faster to pull ants out of their nests. With the help of a tenacious tail, the baby anteater moves along the branches in search of delicious food.

The dwarf anteater prefers to stay awake and hunt at night, and sleep during the day, curled up in a ball, high in the crowns of trees. This little phlegmatic just loves to feast on ants (sometimes he manages to eat up to 8000 of these insects per day). If there is a small bug or termite on the path of the anteater, then it will also be an additional snack. Since this fluffy animal has no teeth, and there is only a tongue, ants chew directly in the stomach thanks to the muscular keratinized walls.

The dwarf anteater loves to live and hunt on its own. The female anteater hatches the offspring within 120-150 days, usually no more than one cub is born. The baby initially lives in a cozy nest of fallen leaves, built by his mother. Very soon, the little anteater begins to become interested in the outside world, and mom and dad show him the surroundings, taking turns rolling on their backs. Parents feed the cub with “porridge” from semi-digested insects, which the little anteater gladly absorbs.

Some scholars argue that the dwarf anteater has a special tendency towards trees from the Ceiba genus. The fibers of the seed boxes of this tree are similar in color to the skin of the anteater, so it is more convenient for our crumbs to hide from predators on such trees.

Like other representatives of this family, the dwarf anteater is a real fighter. Sensing danger, he does not run headlong, but takes a defensive stance, rising to his hind legs and threateningly holding the front near the muzzle. If the enemy begins to attack, the brave anteater will not remain in debt and will fight back, using its impressive claws on the front legs.

You can meet this amazing animal and learn more about his habits on the pages of Gerald Darrell's New Noah.

Distribution area

Anteaters can be found throughout Central America, as well as in the southeastern parts of Mexico. In large numbers, these species are represented in the forests of Venezuela and northern Argentina. Southern Brazil and Uruguay are also distinguished by the presence of anteaters.

Favorite places of these animals are forest edges and savannahs, which are located no higher than 2000 m. Anteaters can also be found in the immediate vicinity of streams and rivers or in trees with a large number of vines.

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.

Common Anteater Species

The family of mammals of the order of anteater anteaters 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".

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 are reluctant to 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.

Subfamily Chlamiphorinae Bonaparte, 1850

Clan Armadillos genus - Chlamiphorus Harlan, 1825

On Burmeisteria Gray, 1865. 2 species (previously distinguished in different genera). Grassy savannas and semi-deserts of the central regions of the South. America.

truncatus Harlan, 1825. The southern territories of Gran Chaco.

retusus Burmeister, 1863. Gran Chaco.

Subfamily Dasypodinae s.str.

In the most fractional system, 4 tribes are distinguished. 7 births.

Genus Armadillo bristle - Chaetophractus Fitzinger, 1871

3 types. Open low-mountain spaces of the center and south of the South. America.

vellerosus Gray, 1865. The central regions of the South. America.

nationi Thomas, 1894. Central Andes.

villosus Desmarest, 1804. Gran Chaco, Patagonia.

Clan Armadillos Six-Belt - Euphractus Wagler, 1830

1 view. Dry savannas of the central part of the South. America

sexcinctus Linnaeus, 1758. Distribution - as indicated for the genus.

Genus Dwarf Armadillos - Zaedyus Ameghino, 1889

1 view. Savannahs (pampas) of the southern part of the South. America.

pichiy Desmarest, 1804. Distribution - as indicated for the genus.

Giant Armadillos genus - Priodontes Cuvier, 1825

1 view. Eastern and central regions America.

maximus Kerr, 1792 (giganteus Cuvier, 1827). Distribution - as indicated for the genus.

Clan Armadillos nude - Cabassous McMurtrie, 1831

4 types. Mountain plateaus and plain savannas of the north of the South. America, Center. America.

unicinctus Linnaeus, 1758 (hisp> loricatus Wagner, 1855). Plain savannas of the northern part of the South. America.

centralis Miller, 1899. Center. America, North South. America.

chacoensis Wetzel, 1980. Gran Chaco.

tatouay Desmarest, 1804. South of the Brazilian Plateau, Gran Chaco.

Three-Belted Armadillos - Tolypeutes Illiger, 1811

2 types. Grassy and shrubby savannahs South. America.

tricinctus Linnaeus, 1758. Northeast Sout. America.

matacus Desmarest, 1804. La Plata Lowland.

Nine-Belt Armadillos - Dasypus Linnaeus, 1758

3 subgenus, 6 species. Plain and mid-mountain grassy and shrub savannas, gallery forests South. and Center. America, South North. America, the Caribbean coastal islands.

Subgenus Dasypus s. str.

novemcintus Linnaeus, 1758 (mazzai Yepes, 1933). Distribution - as indicated for the genus.

septemcinctus Linnaeus, 1758. The southern part of the Amazon, La Plata lowland.

hybridus Desmarest, 1804. The southern part of the South. America east of the Andes (except Patagonia).

sabanicola Mondolfi, 1968. Savannahs of the North Sout. America.

Subgenus Hyperoambon Peters, 1864

kappleri Kraus, 1862. Low mountains of the northwest and north of the South. America.

Subgenus Cryptophractus Fitzinger, 1856

pilosus Fitzinger, 1856. Low-mountain gallery forests of the southwest of the Amazon.

Detachable Squad - P ilosa

Monophyletic taxon, sister group for Cingulata. 2 suborders, 4 modern families (representatives of 1 became extinct in historical time) and up to 5 minerals. Authentic from late paleogene. South and Center. America, Caribbean Islands and Southwest North. America (died out in historical time). Indication of late the Paleogene of Europe is mistaken.

Megaterian Family - † Megatheriidae Gray, 1821

2 subfamilies, at least 30 genera, of which 1 is modern (extinct in historical time). From early Neogene. South and Center. America, southwest North. America.

Rod † Nothrotherium Lydekker, 1889

On Nothrotheriops Hoffstetter, 1954. 2 subgenus (possibly childbirth), 2 species. Distribution - as indicated for the family (extinct in historical time).

maquinense Lydekker, 1889. Southwest North. America.

shastense Hoffstetter, 1954. Southwest North. America.

Family Three-Toed Sloths - Bradypodidae Gray, 1821

Close to Megatheriidae. 1 genus Rainforest South. and Center of America.

Three-toed sloths - Bradypus Linnaeus, 1758

2 subgenus, 4 species. Distribution - as indicated for the family.

Subgenus Bradypus s. str.

variegatus Schinz, 1825. Distribution - as indicated for the family.

pygmaeus Anderson et Handley, 2001. Islands of the east coast of the Isthmus of Panama.

tridactylus Linnaeus, 1758 (cuculliger Wagler, 1831). North South America.

Subgenus Scaeopus Peters, 1811

torquatus Illiger, 1811. East of the Amazon.

Subfamily Choloepinae Gray, 1871

= Choloepodinae auct. 4 genera, 2 of them modern (1 extinct in historical time).

Genus † Synocnus Paula Couto, 1967

1 view. Greater Antilles (extinct in historical time).

† comes Paula Couto, 1967. Distribution - as indicated for the genus.

Genus Two-fingered Sloths - Choloepus Illiger, 1811

In classical systems, it is considered as part of Bradypodidae. 2 types. Rainforest South. and Center. America.

didactylus Linnaeus, 1758. West and north of the Amazon region.

hoffmanni Peters, 1858. Center. America, northwest and west of the Amazon.

Anteater Family - Myrmecophagidae Gray, 1825

2 subfamilies (sometimes considered families), 3 modern and 4 fossil genera. From early Neogene. Different types (mainly tropical) forests, swampy and dry savannas of the South. and Center. America. The reference to the Paleogene of Europe is erroneous (genus †Eurotamandua related to Pholidota).

Subfamily Myrmecophaginae s. str.

Giant Anteaters genus - Myrmecophaga Linnaeus, 1758

1 view. Distribution - as indicated for the family.

tridactyla Linnaeus, 1758. Distribution - as indicated for the family.

Four-Toed Anteaters - Tamandua Gray, 1825

2 types. Distribution - as indicated for the family.

mexicana Saussure, 1860. Center. America and North South. America.

tetradactyla Linnaeus, 1758. Forest regions of the northern part of the South. America.


Anteaters feed exclusively on insects and not all in a row, but only on the smallest species - ants and termites. Such selectivity is associated with the absence of teeth: since the anteater cannot chew food, he swallows the insects as a whole, and in the stomach they are digested by very aggressive gastric juice.

In order for food to be digested faster, it must be small enough, so anteaters do not eat large insects. However, the anteater facilitates the work of his stomach by partially rubbing or crushing insects on the hard palate at the time of swallowing. Since the food of the anteaters is small, they are forced to absorb it in large quantities, and therefore are in constant search.

Anteaters move like living vacuum cleaners, bending their heads to the ground and constantly sniffing and pulling everything edible in their mouth (their sense of smell is very acute). Possessing a disproportionately large force, they turn the driftwood over with a noise, and even if they encounter a termite mound, they arrange a real rout in it. With powerful claws, anteaters destroy the termite and quickly lick termites from the surface.

During the feast, the anteater’s tongue moves at a tremendous speed (up to 160 times per minute!), Which is why it has such powerful muscles. Insects stick to the tongue due to sticky saliva, the salivary glands also reach enormous size and attach to the sternum, like the tongue.


Mating in giant anteaters occurs twice a year - in spring and autumn, other species mate more often in autumn. Since the anteaters live alone, there is rarely more than one male near one female, therefore, these animals do not have mating rituals.

The male finds the female by smell, the anteaters are silent and do not give special invocation signals. Pregnancy lasts from 3-4 (in the dwarf) to 6 months (in the giant anteater). The female standing gives birth to one cub, rather small and naked, which independently climbs onto her back. From that moment on, she wears it all the time, and the cub clings tenaciously to her back with clawed paws. It is generally difficult to detect a small cub in a giant anteater, because it is buried in the stiff coat of its mother.

Tamandua females often during feeding on a tree plant a cub on some branch, after completing all their affairs, the mother picks up the cub and goes down. Young anteaters spend a long time with their mother: they are inseparably on their back for the first month, then they begin to descend to the ground, but remain connected with the female for up to two years! It is not uncommon to see a female anteater carrying on its back a “cub” almost equal in size to it. Different species reach puberty in 1-2 years. Gigantic anteaters live up to 15 years, Tamandua - up to 9.

Enemies in nature

In nature, anteaters have few enemies. Large gigantic anteaters generally dare to attack only jaguars, but this animal has a weapon against predators - claws up to 10 cm long. In case of danger, the anteater falls on its back and begins to clumsyly swing all four legs. The outward absurdity of such behavior is deceptive; the anteater can inflict severe wounds. Small species are more vulnerable, in addition to jaguars, large boas and eagles can attack them, but these animals are protected with claws.

In addition to turning on their backs, they can sit on their tail and fight off their paws, and a dwarf anteater does the same, hanging on its tail on a tree branch. And tamandua also uses an unpleasant smell as an additional protection, for which the locals even called him “forest stink”.

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.

Anteater content at home

Keeping such a pet in your home is really very funny and exciting.A domestic anteater can do without its own cage and, believe me, you will not offend him in any way, because who will be glad that he will be locked up behind bars. Making such a friend in the house, you should get used to and accept the fact that it is to some extent almost like a small child.

So it would be nice to allocate a separate room for him, in which, by the way, you can lock it when you go to work, as this craftsman can do such things in the house that you are unlikely to praise him.

Furniture most often suffers from such a friend from South America; he, like a cat, seeks to sharpen his claws about her upholstery, and he has rather big ones, so it is better that his walks around the apartment are carried out under someone's careful supervision. In addition, by its nature, the anteater is not a creature without intellect, in this regard, he really loves to poke his long, curious face, into all the corners into which she crawls and not very, in which case he also has paws.

If such an unpleasant situation has happened and this pretty tenant has already managed to do his own thing in the house, do not rush to scold him or even bring him up, using force. First of all, you will frighten him, and this can negatively backfire on your further relationships, because the animal may begin to perceive you not at all as a friend. Well, the second reason why you should not “attack” him is that he, though a kind, but still a wild beast. He himself will never begin to hunt you, but he is not used to giving himself an insult, so you can easily get hit with a heavy muscular paw, besides armed with a long sharp claw.

Such a pet is not a problem to take on walks to the yard on a leash, only it is necessary to accustom it to these devices from early childhood. So, for example, Salvador Dali kept such such an unusual friend and walked around the city with him every day in search of inspiration.

This eccentric loves to be given attention, you can play with him, dress him, comb him, he will not run away or kick. The anteater will simply calm down, will rejoice and have fun.

At home, it’s not necessary to catch tens of thousands of ants for him, he will be quite pleased with such treats as porridge with minced meat, preferably rice, you can also give him different fruits and eggs. Just do not forget that he has no teeth - you will have to grind the lunch carefully. But during the walk you can safely bring him to the anthills, believe me, he will not be confused and will get to work, instincts will take their toll in any case.

Since this exot comes from warm countries, it must not be allowed to freeze, so fashionable clothes for an anteater are not only fun and beautiful, but also to some extent necessary. Also, during sleep, it should be covered with something warm.

The average cost of such an extraordinary pet ranges from 500,000 to 2,500,000 rubles.

  • 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.
  • An ordinary gluttonous anteater can eat up to 30 thousand ants or termites per day.
  • Anteaters are not herd animals, prefer to lead a solitary lifestyle, maximum family. Nevertheless, being in captivity can perfectly play with each other.
  • The anteaters have a peaceful character, through which they lend themselves perfectly to domestication, can get along well with more familiar pets: cats and dogs, and even love to play with children. True, keeping an anteater at home is not so simple, because they absolutely can not stand the cold, the favorable temperature for them should be at least 24-26 C.
  • Anteaters, among other things, are good swimmers, they can easily swim across tropical reservoirs.



The fauna of South America is in many ways unique. The great anteater is one of the most prominent representatives of the South American fauna. Nowadays, the family of anteaters (Myrmecophagidae) includes three species: the Tamandua genus with two species - the South American or northern Tamandua tetradactyla and the Mexican or southern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) and the Mymecophaga genus with a single species - large or giant anteater, also called the three-toed anteater, or tamanuar (Mymecophaga tridactyla). In addition, there is also a family of dwarf anteaters (Cyclopedidae) with a single genus (Cyclopes) and a species of dwarf anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus), which were also previously placed in the family Myrmecophagidae. All anteaters are endemic to South America, with the exception of the Mexican tamandua and dwarf anteater, which are also found in Central America.
The large anteater is the largest modern edentulous (superorder Xenarthra), surpassing even the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) in size. The weight of large anteaters varies from about 18 to 40 kg, but in exceptional cases more. There are references that some individuals reach approximately 65 kg of weight. Males are slightly larger than females. These animals have great physical strength, which is due to the anteater’s lifestyle (termite terminator crash).
Of the anteater’s senses, the sense of smell is most developed, thanks to which it can not only detect ants, but also distinguish their species, avoiding the most aggressive of them. The hearing and vision of a large anteater are rather mediocre.
Due to the nature of nutrition, the anteater completely lacks teeth, the skull is very narrow and long, tube-shaped. Zygomatic arches are reduced and open. Unlike the vast majority of mammals with 7 cervical vertebrae, in the anteater their number ranges from 6 to 9. The tongue is thin, sticky and very long. A special case attached to the sternum provides a very quick protrusion of the tongue, which collects many insects. At the same time, a large amount of saliva is secreted by the anteater (the anteater’s salivary glands are very well developed). As mentioned above, the anteater is completely devoid of teeth. Grinding food anteater help horn papillae, covering the palate and the inner side of the cheeks. In addition, the anteater has a muscular stomach, especially in the peloric section, where the grinding of food ends.
The testes of the male are not carried out into the scrotum, but are located intraperitoneally (as for example in armadillos, elephants, cetaceans, and some other mammals). The excretory and reproductive system of anteaters open with one hole, which is not typical for mammals. Thus, an anteater forms a kind of cesspool. Females of the greater anteater have two pairs of nipples (abdominal and pectoral).
Despite its scientific name - Mymecophaga tridactyla, which means a three-fingered anteater, this species has five fingers on each foot, but only four fingers armed with claws are visible on the front paws. The claws on the forepaws are exceptionally well developed and very strong. The largest claw is located on the third finger, and the smallest - on the first. With the help of its large claws and powerful paws, the anteater in search of food destroys termite mounds, anthills, flips stones or defends itself (for example, from hunting dogs). With the destruction of the anthill (and especially the termite mound), large loads are placed on the anteater's lower back. In this regard, the anteater has additional joints between the lumbar vertebrae, called xenanthroles. The anteater’s hind limbs are semi-transient, while the forelimbs rests on the back of the hand (due to hypertrophically developed claws), such as anthropoid apes.
The tail is long, very fluffy. It can serve either as an additional support of the animal during the collapse of the anthills, or as a kind of coverlet when the animal is sleeping. The color of the great anteater is very specific. The characteristic black stripes coming from the base of the head and chest on the sides of the animal seem to dissect its appearance and thus it is very difficult to determine the true size of the animal and its position from a distance.
The giant anteater leads a solitary lifestyle, with the exception of the mating period. Animals find each other by the smell of glandular secretions, as well as saliva. However, giant anteaters are rather flexible animals and in captivity, as a rule, do not show aggression to each other. Typically, anteaters lead a daytime lifestyle, but in places where a person preys on them, he goes on to predominantly nocturnal activity.
The female anteater usually gives birth to one cub once or twice a year. Pregnancy lasts about 190 days. From birth, the baby climbs onto the mother’s back, where it clings to its hair with its claws. A four-week-old cub is already able to run normally, but continues to ride on his mother’s back for up to a year. Giant anteaters reach puberty between two and a half and four years.

Overdose: Eukaryota (eukaryotes, or nuclear)
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Subdomain: Eumetazoa (eumetazoi, or true multicellular)
Subcategory: Bilateria (bilaterally symmetrical, or bilateral)
Suptype: Deuterostomia (Secondary)
Type: Chordata (Chordata)
Subtype: Vertebrata (vertebrates)
Infratype: Gnathostomata (maxillary)
Overclass: Tetrapoda (tetrapods, or tetrapods)
Class: Mammalia (mammals, or animals)
Subclass: Theria (live-bearing mammals, or real animals)
Infraclass: Eutheria (placental mammals, or higher animals)
Superorder: Xenarthra (edentulous, or xenartra)
Order: Pilosa (anteaters and sloths)
Suborder: Vermilingua (Anteaters)
Family: Myrmecophagidae (Anteater)
Genus: Myrmecophaga (large, or giant anteaters)
Species: Myrmecophaga tridactyla (large, giant, or three-fingered anteater, or tamanuar)

Perhaps there are not so many animals on earth as strange and unusual as the anteater. At the sight of this creature, the first thing that catches your eye is its long and narrow, like a tube, muzzle with small eyes and a very small mouth. But huge claws, thick hair and a long fluffy tail of a giant anteater are the envy of all animals.

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 include the extinct glyptodonts), which 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 rounded in cross section, very long: in 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.


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 tamandua 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.