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WHAT IS THE ANT EATER?


The Ant Eater is a very interesting mammal. The body is narrow and the fur is gray overall with black and white along the shoulders. The hair is coarse and thick, longest on the tail. The head is elongated and tapers to a tubular mouth. The long tongue is covered with a sticky secretion that entraps the ants which the anteater feeds on. The three large claws on the front feet are used to get into and and termite nests and as a defensive weapon.



The other claws are small. They swim well and will readily go in water. They sleep curled up with the head between the forelegs and the tail covering the body. Their main predators, pumas and jaguars, are very careful to avoid the front claws which can kill them. Anteaters probably have weak vision, but a good sense of smell.














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Once a termite or ant nest is opened the anteater will eat until the stings from the insects become too frequent and painful, then move on to another nest. For this reason they are not territorial, but rather nomadic, always seeking new nests. One anteater can consume 35,000 to 50,000 insects per day. In many parts of its former range it has disappeared, the result of habitat loss and hunting. It is hunted mostly for sport. They eat for only 30 to 60 seconds at each anthill, then move on to another mound. Unlike other anteater species, the giant anteater does not climb trees.

 

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