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Giant Anteater

Scientific name: Myrmecophaga tridactyla

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Giant anteater - Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Giant anteater - Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Photo © Tom Brakefield / Getty Images.

Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are a species of anteaters. Giant anteaters have long straw-like brown-black fur that covers their body and grows to lengths of up to 15 inches on its bushy tail. It has a black and white stripe that runs along each side of its body.

Giant anteaters have long, tubular snouts, well adapted for working its way into the ant hills and termite nests it rips open with its large claws. The anteater's tounge is sticky, helping to gather the tiny insects it eats. The anteater's front limbs are strong and provide some defense against its natural predators, the puma and the jaguar. Long, sturdy claws adorn its front limbs. When walking, the giant anteater protects these front claws by walking on its knuckles.

Giant anteaters reach sexual maturity between 2 and 4 years of age. They produce one offspring each breeding season and their average lifespan is about 25 years in captivity.

Giant anteaters eat ants and termites, occasionally grubs and other insects.

Giant anteaters inhabit grasslands, deciduous forests, rain forests, savannas, wet forests, and swamps. Individual anteaters have ranges of about 2 square km up to 25 square km (depending on food availability). They seek shelter at night in hollow logs, at the foot of a tree, or in the shelter of a bush. Range extends from Central to South America.

Classification

Animals > Chordates > Vertebrates > Mammals > Anteaters > Giant Anteater

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