Giant Anteater

Giant Anteater
Photographer: Malene Thyssen

Giant Anteater
Photographer: Howard Cheng

Giant Anteater Range Map (Central to South America)
Giant Anteater Range Map
(Central to South America)
Latin Name Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Conservation Status Near Threatened
Location Central to South America
Colour Grey/Brown
Length 1 - 1.3 m (3.25 - 4.3 ft)
Tail 64 - 90 cm (25 - 35 inches)
Weight 22 - 39 Kgs (49 - 86 lbs)
Life Expectancy

Up to 26 Yrs (in captivity)

Main Characteristics

Giant Anteaters are the largest species of anteater. They have a body length between 1 and 1.3 m (3.25 - 4.3 ft), a tail length between 64 and 90 cms (25 - 35 inches) and they weigh between 22 and 39 kgs (49 - 86 lbs).

They have a small face with small eyes and ears, and their snout is long and tubular. They have large front legs and strong claws on their front feet. They walk on their knuckles to protect their claws from wear.

They have a narrow body and their tail is long and bushy. They are coloured grey/brown and their fur is long and coarse. They have a long tongue that is covered in tiny backward facing spines and sticky saliva that they use to capture their prey.

Giant Anteaters do not have a good sense of sight or hearing but their sense of smell is excellent. They are generally silent and most communication occurs between a mother and her young. They communicate by snorts, hisses, sniffs and if they are alarmed or fighting sometimes they roar.


Giant Anteaters inhabit grasslands, deciduous forests and rain forests of central and south America. They are solitary animals and are active during the day. They have a home range up to 25 sq. kms (10 sq. miles) depending on food availability.


Giant Anteaters mainly feed on ants and termites, and they have been known to eat up to 30,000 insects per day. They also eat soft bodied grubs and occasionally fruit and eggs.

They rip open ants nests and termite mounds with their clawed front feet and they use their long , sticky tongue to eat their prey.


After a gestation period of 190 days, one young is born weighing approximately 1.3 Kgs (2.8 lbs). When they are born they have a full coat and adult like markings, and they ride around on their mothers back.

When they reach 6 months old they are weaned but they stay with their mother until she becomes pregnant again.

Giant Anteaters become sexually mature when they are between 2.5 and 4 years of age. They tend to breed all year round but breeding is seasonal in some parts of their range.


The main predators of Giant Anteaters are mountain lions, jaguars and humans


There are two subspecies of the Giant Anteater:

Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Interesting Facts

Giant Anteaters are the largest species of anteater.

Their tongue can protrude more than 60 cms (2 ft) out of their mouth.

Their sense of smell is 40 times that of a human.

Giant Anteaters are one of only two mammals that do not have any teeth, even when they are fully grown adults, pangolins being the other.

Giant Anteaters have the lowest metabolic rate of any placental mammal.

Similar Animals

Silky Anteater
Northern Tamandua
Southern Tamandua


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