How many ants does an Anteater eat?

How many ants does an Anteater eat?

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) is a large mammal in the Myrmecophagidae family from Central America and South America. Its head is elongated, with a thick neck, and a long, and tubular snout (nose). At the end of the snout are small nostrils and a small mouth with no teeth. 

The Giant Anteater is insectivorous – it eats insects – especially termites and ants, as well as beetles and honeybees. It does not destroy the ant nest or termite mound completely – instead, it leaves some ants and termites so that they can rebuild the colony to ensure that there are more ants and termites in the future. It uses its claws to dig them up, and then it uses its long, sticky tongue to collect the insects. Its tongue has backward-curved papillae with sticky saliva. 

Termite Mound

It grows to 182-217 centimetres (72-86 inches) in length. Its tongue measures about 60 centimetres (24 inches) long.

The Giant Anteater eats up to 35,000 ants and termites a day.

Giant Anteater

The Short-Beaked Echidna is an Australian monotreme (egg-laying) mammal that is also called the Short-Beaked Spiny Anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus). It does not look like the Giant Anteater – instead, it looks like a Hedgehog. It has a straight beak with a long sticky tongue. Like the Giant Anteater, the Spiny Anteater does not have teeth. 

The Short-Beaked Spiny Anteater grows to 30-45 centimetres (12-18 inches). Its tongue measures 15-18 centimetres (6-7 inches) long. Its tongue is covered in sticky saliva and it can move in and out very fast. 

It eats ants, termites, and other invertebrates, such as worms, centipedes and millipedes.

The Short-Beaked Spiny Anteater eats about 40,000 ants and termites a day.

Short-Beaked Echidna (Short-Beaked Spiny Anteater)

Therefore, large and small species of Anteaters eat up to about 40,000 ants and termites a day.

Giant Anteater
Giant Anteater

Location of photographs: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France and Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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