The southern tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) has an elongated snout and is covered by creamy yellow-brown fur. Tamaduas in the southeastern part of their range have a black patch resembling a vest that curves around the mammal's front limbs, over its shoulders and onto its back and sides. Tamanduas in other parts of their range have less prominent vesting pattern. These mammals have four sharply clawed digits on their front limbs and five digits on their back limbs.
Tamanduas grow to lengths of 21 to 35 inches, with tails of up to 16 inches. The generally weigh between 7 and 19 pounds. Their main defense is their sharp claws. When cornered, tamanduas will sturdy themselves against a tree trunk and rear up on their hind legs. From that angle, the can then defend themselves by swinging their forelimbs and clawing attackers.
Tamanduas forage for food on the ground and also are adept climbers, enabling them to feed on insects they encounter up in the trees. Their diet consists of ants, termites, and bees. They use their strong forelimbs to tear apart insect nests and then scoop up insects with their long rounded tongue.
Tamanduas inhabit South America. Their range extends from Venezuela to northern Argentina and south to southern Brazil and Uruguay. They can be found at elevations up to 2000 meters. Tamanduas inhabit tropical rainforests, savannas, and thorn scrubs.