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Giant anteater

November 29, 2014

The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is an anteater species found in Central and South America.

As their name implies, they are the largest species of anteater, with a length of up to 7 feet from their long, thin snout to bushy tail, and a weight of 65 to 140 pounds. Their body temperature is among the lowest of land mammals, 32,7 degrees Celcius. They are covered with straw-like hair, which can be up to 16 inches long, up to tail. Their coloring is usually gray and brown, with a black and white shoulder stripe. The gastric acid in their stomach is made of formic acid from their insect prey. Their locomotion of knuckle-walking is similar to that of apes.

Giant anteaters inhabit grasslands and various forests. Using their long, sticky tongue, they feed almost exclusively on insects, such as ants and termites. Up to 30.000 of them can be consumed per day by a single individual. When encountering a threat, giant anteaters are capable of defending themselves with their powerful claws.

Giant anteaters breed year around, beginning at the age 2 1/2 to 4 years. After a gestation period of 6 months, a single young is born fully haired. They wean at the age of 6 months, and are independent at 2 years.

Giant anteaters are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. They are very uncommon throughout their range, and are declining in number due mainly to habitat loss, especially in Central America.

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