Vested Anteater

Vested Anteater
Vested Anteater
PhotoDisc Green/Getty Images

This species uses its large, powerful claws to tear open ant and termite mounds, then laps up the insects with the long, sticky tongue that protrudes from its tiny mouth — less than half an inch (1 cm) in diameter.

Since it is toothless, the insects are ground up in a part of its stomach that resembles a gizzard.

Its prehensile tail has a hairless portion on the underside for gripping branches; it is often used as a fifth limb for climbing.

When threatened, the anteater raises up on its hind limbs, hissing, its heavily clawed fore limbs extended, ready to do battle.

The claws are so long that when the anteater walks, it treads on the sides of its paws. It cannot run.

Animal Facts

Name: Vested Anteater (Tamandua mexicana)

Family: Myrmecophagidae (Anteaters)

Range: Southern Mexico to South America

Habitat: Tropical rain forest and deciduous

Diet: Termites and ants

Head and Body Length: 21 to 23 inches (54 to 58 cm)

Tail Length: 21 to 22 inches (54 to 55.5 cm)

Weight: 8 to 13 pounds (3.5 to 6 kg)

Life Cycle: Gestation 130 to 150 days; one young born in spring

Description: Fawn to brownish in color; black "V" on back; tube-shaped, toothless jaw; sticky tongue; large ears; dense, bristly fur; large, hooked claws; prehensile tail

Conservation Status: Not listed by the IUCN.