If you check out the facts on anteaters, you will realize that the name is used for 4 species of animals, namely aardvark, echidna, numbat and pangolin. However, the real anteaters are from the order Pilosa, and subsist on ants and termites. All the species that are labeled as anteaters have no teeth and make use of their long tongues to catch ants and termites to swallow them.
The anteater is native to central and southern parts of South America. It has a body length ranging from a mere 14 inches to a massive 6 feet. It weighs between 18 and 39 kilograms, and has a lifespan of around twenty-five years in captivity. Besides ants and termites, the anteater also eats fruits, worms and eggs. It has a gestation period of around 190 days, after which it gives birth to a single offspring. (See Reference 1)
The giant anteater is the largest species of anteater. Typically, this species leads a solitary life and is found living in rainforests, grasslands and deciduous forests. (See Reference 1)
The tongue of an anteater can reach an amazing length of two feet. It is covered with a thick and sticky coating of saliva which helps to catch the ants and termites. The tongue also has spines growing on it which point backwards towards the throat. On ingesting the ants and termites, the stomach releases formic acid which helps to neutralize the poison in the ants. (See Reference 1)
An anteater has a very low rate of metabolism and it sleeps for 15 hours each day. The giant anteater has a body temperature of just 90.9 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, it has a powerful sense of smell which allows it to detect its prey. The sense of smell of an anteater is 40 times more potent than that of humans. (See Reference 1)
Anteaters have a very characteristic way of walking. They tend to walk on their knuckles and this helps to protect their claws from getting worn out. They do not walk on the soles of their feet. (See Reference 1) The forefeet have sharp long claws that help the anteaters to dig termite mounds and anthills. When threatened, it can use its sharp claws to defend itself, but generally it will turn and run away from danger.
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