In this episode of Candid Animal Cam, Romi introduces us to the world’s biggest anteater …

Did you know?

  • The scientific name of the giant anteater is Myrmecophaga tridactyla.
  • Giant anteaters are native to Central and South America and they live in forests, savannas, and grasslands.
  • They are the world’s biggest anteaters, with a total body length (including the tale) of about 6-7 feet (1.8 – 2.2 meters).
  • Giant anteaters have dense fur and bushy tails to keep them warm on cold nights.
  • Giant anteaters can climb and swim.
  • They can run at speeds of over 30 miles (48 km) per hour!
  • Giant anteaters are insectivores, meaning that they eat insects.
  • They have a terrific sense of smell to help them find their food, which includes ants and termites.
  • A giant anteater needs to eat LOTS of insects to meet its energy needs: in fact, they can eat up to 30,000 insects a day!
  • A giant anteater can flick its tongue super fast – more than twice per second – when it eats.
  • Giant anteaters are solitary. That means that they mostly live alone, unless they are mating or the mother anteater is caring for her young.

Did you hear?

Comprehension questions:

  • What does Romi mean when she says that giant anteaters use a “lightning strike” feeding tactic? Why do giant anteaters use this type of feeding behavior?
  • Which animal has the lowest body temperature of all placental mammals?
  • How do giant anteaters defend themselves if they feel threatened?
  • Which big cat is the giant anteater powerful enough to kill?

A giant anteater in Bolivia. Look at those claws!

Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay

Isn’t it beautiful?

Image by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay

Activity: giant anteater art

Draw, paint, or sculpt a giant anteater. Here are a few ideas to help you get creative:

  • a giant anteater trying to stay warm on a cold night
  • a giant anteater defending itself against a jaguar
  • a giant anteater flicking its tongue to catch termites
  • a giant anteater caring for its baby
Romi thanks:

The Rewilding Argentina Foundation, with special thanks to naturalist Augusto Distel.

See also:

https://news.mongabay.com/2021/05/did-you-know-how-many-insects-a-giant-anteater-can-eat-in-a-day-candid-animal-cam/