Creatures of the Amazon
Giant Anteater
Myrmecophaga tridactyl
By Mike Collis

You will be very lucky if you ever see a Giant Anteater foraging in the amazon rainforest. They are very illusive and well camouflaged. The Giant Anteater lives in the jungles of South America. This amazing creature lives on the forest floor feeding on ants and termites. In the forest the tall trees make the forest floor very humid. It is also very dark on the forest floor because the trees block out the sun. The temperature in the rainforest ranges between 68°f and 93°f and it is always wet due to the average annual rainfall of 50" to 200" (inches). There are many predators of Giant Anteaters in the rainforest including Jaguars, Panthers, and Ocelots.

The Giant Anteaters body temperature is only between 32°f and 35°F so the humid air keeps them warm. The forest floor is very soft and muddy, but this helps the anteater because it walks on its knuckles. The claws on the Giant Anteater are very important tools for feeding so they walk on their knuckles to avoid damaging their claws. Anteaters also use their claws to protect themselves against predators like Jaguars and the other large cats. Their claws are also used to dig through ant and termite nests and to dig burrows to sleep in at night, so their claws are very important to them. One unique advantage the Giant Anteater has is its hearing. The anteater can hear the ants working in their nests and it follows the sound until it reaches the nest.

The sense of smell is another advantage because its sense of smell is 40 times more stronger than that of a man. Giant Anteaters sense of smell is so strong they can smell ants and termites from miles away. However they have poor eyesight so without their good hearing and strong sense of smell they would probably die of starvation. Giant Anteaters eat up to 30,000 ants and termites daily. To enable them to consume so many they have an extraordinary long and sticky tongue which have been known to be as long as 2 feet. Apart from a sticky substance on the tongue the tongue has little spines on it to catch prey. They keep moving away from the nest for short periods to avoid being stung by the ants. Anteaters don't have any teeth so they consume their food by crushing it against the roof of their mouths with their strong tongues thereby making it easier to swallow. They cannot drink out of ponds or streams because of their long tongues so instead they lick water off leaves and plants.

If you happen to visit the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm you will see one there. And he's very friendly and loves to be patted on his side.
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