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Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Biggest Anteater

The Giant Anteater is renowned as the largest species of anteater. It can grow up to 2.1 meters long from the tip of its snout until the end of its tail, whereas others species of anteaters are as small as squirrels.

The Giant Anteater which is known to be a solitary animal can be found in Central and South America. They favor tropical forests as well as grasslands. Anteaters are edentate animals, in other words, they have no teeth. They do however; have long tongues that can reach up to 60 cm in length, with a width of merely 12.5 mm. This unusual tongue has a sticky substance during feeding which is used to keep the ants and termites from escaping. Before the anteater starts eating, it must first use its extremely sharp and long front claws to open insect colonies and tree trunks. The anteater must then eat very quickly, by flicking its tongue up to 150 times per minute. It can eat up to 30,000 insects in a single day. Anteaters never destroy a nest, they prefer to return to it and feed again in the future.

Giant Anteaters are not aggressive but they can be fierce. Their long ten centimeters claws can also be used to protect themselves against predators like jaguars and other large cats. Anteaters walk on their knuckles instead of their paws because they do not want to ruin their sharp claws. These animals are covered with stiff and straw-like fur which helps keep them warm, when they fall asleep; they cover their body with their long, bushy tail. Giant Anteaters are known to have a very keen sense of smell, but on the other hand, it is thought to have very poor sight and hearing. Females have a single offspring once a year. The baby spends much of the first part of its life riding on its mother's back, until it is almost half her size.
The giant anteater is presently classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Humans are a big threat to the Giant Anteaters. These unique creatures are killed either by sport, curiosity or through road-kills. Nevertheless, habitat destruction has by far been the Giant Anteaters biggest threat which has lead to creation zones for their protection.

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