Giant anteater

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Animal File

Common Name:
Giant anteater
Scientific Name:
Mymecophaga tridactyla
Size: 70 cm
Weight: 18 - 64 kg
Mammals
Carnivores
Native to South America
Grasslands and Steppes
Rain Forest

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Giant anteaters are one of the Zoo’s more unusual species with a lush coat and a very long nose.  In captivity, they can live over 20 years, but, in the wild, can fall prey to jaguars and pumas, although they will stand up and fight with their long, sharp claws if threatened.  They use their strong tail as a balance whilst standing up to predators on their hind legs.

Giant anteaters give birth to one baby at a time which climbs on to its mother’s back and is carried round nestling into her long fur.  They are plain coloured at birth but develop the distinctive black and white markings as they grow.

Like aardvarks, they are “edentate” which means that they have no teeth.  Instead of biting and chewing, they use their long tongues to lap up thousands of ants or termites a day.  Here in the Zoo they eat dried dog food, minced beef, pellets, banana and orange all blended together.  They are also given mealworms or insects every day and honey as a treat once a week.

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