Ararat Ridge Zoo

Giant Anteater

Giant anteaters are the only terrestrial anteater species and can run up to 30 miles per hour. But they are still excellent climbers and swimmers!

Giant Anteater
Giant Anteater

Day of Creation: six
Biblical Kind: anteater (includes all anteater species)
Status: vulnerable
Length: 5.5 (females)–7 (males) feet
Weight: 60 (females)–140 (males) pounds
Habitat: grasslands, shrublands, and rainforests of southern Central America and northern South America
Lifespan: 15 (wild)–30 (human care) years
Diet: ants, termites, honeybees, and beetle larvae
Family Life: solitary
Reproduction: single pups are born after a 6-month gestation

Fun Facts

Giant anteaters can flick their two-foot-long spiny tongues 150 times per minute to eat over 30,000 insects at 200 nests per day. They can feel insect bites, so they only feed for a minute before moving on.

Giant anteaters have no teeth and cannot make their own stomach acid. To digest food, they rely on hardened folds in their stomachs, and the sand, soil, and formic acid of the ants they eat.

While their eyesight is poor, their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than humans. They can distinguish between every species of insect they eat. Each anteater’s saliva also has a unique scent, which is how they recognize one another.

The average body temperature of giant anteaters is 91ºF, much lower than a typical mammal’s of 97–100ºF.

Mother anteaters carry their pups on their backs for their first 6–9 months of life.