Anteaters are mammal, which are also called as ant-bear. There are only four
of this species of suborder Vermilingua (worm tongue). They are named anteater because of their diet- ants & termites. They are edentate. But they have a large tongue. They belong to order Pilosa. Their close relatives are the sloths (have only six species). The four species of anteater are Myrmecophaga tridactyla (Giant anteater), Cyclopes didactylus (Silky anteater), T. mexicana (Northern tamandua) and T. tetradactyla (Collared anteater or southern tamandua).
The largest member of this group is giant anteater. Their size measured up to 8feet (2.6 meters) in length. At shoulder they can be reach a height up to 4 feet (1.3 meters). It has a sticky, large tongue which can reach a length up to 2 feet. Its head is thin & long and tail is large and bushy. It has very small ears and two eyes. They have terrible eyesight but they have a very sensitive nose. Anteaters are walking on their wrists. Its front paws have long and sharp claw. When they walk, the claws are curled under the feet. Giant anteater can weigh up to 18 to 45 kilograms. Their body covered with bushy fur. Its coarse fur may be brown or gray, and a white bordered broad dark band covered the body from chest to shoulder. It has an elongated jaw, in which top the black small noise is settled. Anteaters have salivary glands that supply plentiful quantities of sticky saliva at their feeding time.
Anteaters’ food menu includes termites, ants and eggs. The anteaters detect anthills and termite pile with its ardent sense of smell. Then they cut and tears them open like a piece of cake with their long sharp claws. They can easily cut down tree trunks for insect colony. They use their special tongue to collect the grown-up insects, maggots and eggs. They can consume up to 30000 insects per day. They stay short time in one colony to avoid the soldier ants. During the feeding time the tongue moves very fast, flicking 150-160 times in & out per minute. Their muscular stomach grinds up the swallowed insects and produces powerful digestive fluids to digest their prey. They never destroy a colony, hoping to come back in future. They also eat small pebbles to help their digestion. Sometimes they are seen to eat fallen fruits.
The giant anteaters like to live above surface. They find a place to stay curls up and then sleep. They are introverted animals. They are not violent but can be ferocious when disturbed. A cornered giant anteater will rise on its rear legs and attacked with its forepaw sharp claws. They are like four inches blades, lined three in a row. They can defeat even a jaguar or puma. The female anteater produces one brood per birth. The gestation stage is about 180 days. The mother carries the young one to its back in the first year. They remain together for the next one year or so. Giant Anteaters hardly make sounds. In its young stage it can make sound which is high pitched, grunt noise to find his mother or alarm her. The anteaters are found in different habitats in the central & Latin America in the savannas and the rainforests.
Silky anteaters like hot weather, and it looks much like a cat with a short trunk. They have yellowish fur and a broad black tangential band covering its whole body. The other two anteaters of genus Tamandua, the southern & northern tamandua are much smaller in compared to giant anteater. They are arboreal, just like the silky anteaters. These three have prehensile tails.