Giant Anteater – Why Can the Smallest Squirrel Be a Giant Anteater?
The anteater has gray hair that feels like straw and grows up to 16 inches long on its tail. Its stylish black stripe runs from under the nose to the middle of the back, with outlines of white and tan. The giant anteater is the world’s largest edentate (toothless) squirrel, with a head and body elongated enough to fit into termite mounds.
anteaters are edentate (toothless)
The anteaters, armadillos, and three-toed sloths are among the edentates. These animals are toothless, but some do have primitive molars. Three-toed sloths have the most teeth of any mammal. Anteaters are among the most ancient living creatures. Their fossil relatives include the giant ground sloth and the two enormous armadillos.
they are smallest squirrels
The parents of the Giant anteater, Pana, came to the Zoo from the Palm Beach Zoo in Florida. The pair are now 12 years old. The Giant anteater, or pup, is born after a 175-day gestation period. The gestation period varies by species and region, but is usually between 130 to 150 days for giant anteaters and 120 to 150 days for tamanduas.
they eat ants
The Giant Anteater is a curious looking creature. Its gray fur feels like straw and grows up to 16 inches long on its tail. It also has a stylish black stripe running from under its nose to the middle of its back. Known for their elongated heads and hairy tails, anteaters are often called antbears, because of their defensive abilities. The animals are considered loners because they do not like to make noises.
they sleep lightly
Why do the smallest squirrel and giant anteater both sleep lightly? Because they do not have the protection of a group, these two animals sleep for fifteen hours a day. Their metabolism is so slow that they enter semi-torpor, a sleep-like state similar to light hibernation. Once in this state, anteaters are difficult to awaken, and it takes them a long time to move for the day.
they are usually silent
Giant anteaters live in forests of Central and South America. Unlike other squirrels, they are often silent and have poor vision, but excellent hearing and smell. They have long, slim bodies and a dense, gray coat. They feed on insects and ants and have excellent hearing. Their high-pitched grunt is often the only sound they make.
they are threatened by habitat loss
While humans may not consider the smallest squirrel as a threat, they are threatened by habitat loss. Roads and agriculture disrupt their habitat, a major cause of death for giant anteaters. Fortunately, scientists are trying to address this problem by analyzing data from collars worn by the smallest squirrel and the giant anteater. By analyzing the data, they hope to find ways to protect these animals.
they have long fore-claws
Most anteaters have a pair of large, sharp front claws and a smaller fore-claw on each foot. They walk plantigrade and are capable of ripping open termite nests with a single swipe. Because their foreclaws are so large, they can easily protect themselves from jaguars, which have been known to attack and kill them.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.