The giant anteater is one of the four types of anteaters, found in
tropical forests and grassy plains from Panama to Argentina. The
anteater is a mammal that has no teeth and eats small animals, mostly
ants (Encarta ‘98). The giant anteater is grey with course, long
hair--40 centimeters on its tail--with a dark stripe running from its
chest to shoulder. This stripe has a purpose. When the anteater is
two years old, it gives birth to a single baby, which rides on its
mother’s back for several months up to a year. The stripe on the
mother’s back serves as a natural camoflage for the baby riding on
his mother (Schupska 1). The funny thing is that the baby anteater is
actually capable of a slow gallop four weeks after birth. How is that
for spoiled? The giant anteater has a tube-shaped head and a long,
slender snout.
Giant anteaters certainly live up to their name; some grow to be
over six feet in length, with a tail of about three feet (Encarta ‘98)!
Anteaters’ tongues are two feet long, and the animals can move them
in and out of their mouths up to 150 times per minute (Schupska 1).
The giant anteaters lives on the ground. It walks with its front feet
turned on the sides to protect its claws, which the animal uses to rip
open ant nest before eating. Then it flits its long tongue and literally
licks up the ants. The anteater precedes to rip oben a termite or ant
hill with its clawed hand and work its tubular snout down into the
heart of the colony, trapping the insects on its tongue’s sticky coating
(Encarta ‘98). The anteater also uses the claws as a defense
mechinism. The natural predators of the giant anteater are the jaguar
and the puma. Anteaters defend themselves against the large cats by
using their front four-inch-long claws. The puma and jaguar are
careful in their attacks because an embrace by the giant anteater’s
powerful forelimbs and claws can sometimes prove fatal (Schupska 1).
Anteaters prove to be more powerful than one would think.