Anteaters primarily live in South America and Central America, inhabiting the rainforests, deciduous forests and grasslands. While they are more commonly found in South America, anteaters can be found anywhere, ranging from the southern part of Mexico right up to northwestern part of Argentina.
With humans destroying the natural habitat of anteaters, today, it is common to find them living in urban as well as rural areas. In urban areas, the anteaters have adapted themselves based on human activities. Hence, in these areas, it is common for anteaters to become active in the night. (See Reference 1) In rural areas, forests and grasslands, anteaters forage for food during the day. They generally have a territory of around 25 square kilometers, or 10 square miles and it is in this territory that they will search for ants and termites. (See Reference 2)
The largest species of anteater is the giant anteater. It can grow between 1 meters and 3 meters in length, and weigh around 22 kilograms to 39 kilograms. The giant anteater has a tail length ranging from 25 inches to 35 inches. (See Reference 2) The anteater has small ears and eyes, but an extremely powerful sense of smell that allows it to detect ants and termites. In addition, it has strong fore legs with sharp claws, which they do use at times to defend themselves.
Jaguars and cougars are known to hunt down anteaters, but mankind is their biggest enemy. Many anteaters get killed in urban areas after getting knocked down by cars, but more are killed for sport and also for their pelts. Today, the anteater is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. (See Reference 1)
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2. The Animal Files: Giant Anteater