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14 Educative Facts About Anteaters

Last Reviewed and Updated on August 1, 2022

These interesting animals got their names after their diet, which almost exclusively consists of ants! But this isn’t all they eat. Read through some of the most amazing facts about anteaters, from their diet to their adaptations.

1. There are 4 different species of anteaters

The four living species are;

  • the giant anteater
  • the silky anteater
  • the southern tamandua (collared anteater)
  • and the northern tamandua

The name “anteater” is also commonly but incorrectly applied to other animal species such as aardvarks, numbats, and pangolins, among other animals.

2. They are closely related to sloths

There are quite a few animals that are visually very similar to anteaters – aardvark being a great example – but none of these are closely related to anteaters.

Their closest relatives are actually sloths.

3. They have long thin tongues

They have elongated snouts and inside it a long thin tongue. Their tongues can be extended to lengths greater than their head length.

4. Anteaters don’t destroy ant and termite nests

This is one of the most important facts about anteaters. These animals usually don’t destroy the nests they feed on. They will only spend a short time feeding on one nest and won’t destroy the colonies. This lets the ants and termites rebuild and grow their numbers again; this also means the anteater can return to the same nest again and feed on it again. Smart!

Their diet is over 90% ants.

5. They eat a lot and have to visit up to 200 insect nests per day

As they only eat a small number of ants (and termites) in each nest and the anteater needs to consume a lot of them to meet its dietary needs, they need to visit up to 200 nests per day to fill their stomachs.

6. The giant anteater walks on its knuckles

Anteaters have large sharp claws they use for opening the nests of ants and termites. They walk on their knuckles with their claws curled up, keeping them out of their way as they walk.

7. Besides ants and insects, they also eat fruit

Anteaters feed almost exclusively on ants and termites to a lesser extent.

But they will occasionally eat other soft-bodied insects as well as soft fruits and eggs.

8. Anteaters don’t have teeth

As they don’t have teeth, they are unable to chew food, which is why their diet consists only of the limited number of insects they eat and soft fruit and eggs that don’t require chewing. This is probably the weirdest of all facts about anteaters.

9. They have poor vision

Anteaters have relatively small eyes and poor eyesight. They compensate for this with their great sense of smell.

10. Young anteaters can be seen riding on the back of their moms

This is one of the most fun facts about anteaters. Female anteaters give birth to a single offspring. A young anteater will piggyback on its mom’s back for up to a year. This keeps the young safe from predators.

11. They have one of the lowest body temperatures of all mammals

Their body temperatures fluctuate between 91 and 97 ° / 33 and 36 °C, which makes anteaters one of the mammals with the lowest body temperatures.

Normal temperatures for most mammals are somewhere in the range of 97 °F to 102 °F / 36 °C to 39 °C.

12. Their tongues have thousands of tiny hooks

Their tongues are covered with thousands of tiny hooks. This, combined with their sticky saliva, makes it easy for them to catch insects with their tongues.

13. They flick their tongues 150 times per minute

Anteaters move their tongues very quickly; they can flick their tongues 150 times per minute.

14. Anteaters are solitary animals

They are generally solitary animals, only meeting to breed. They aren’t usually aggressive towards other anteaters.

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