At the Detroit Zoo
Three female giant anteaters can be found in the American Grasslands. Chesley came to the Zoo in 1997 and gave birth to Raya in 1999. Bissell, Chesley’s great-granddaughter, arrived at the Zoo in 2009.
The giant anteater has a very large, long nose, a tongue that can be up to 2 feet long and very sharp claws. It has very small eyes and ears. Its long, bushy tail can be as long as its body. The giant anteater’s coat is thick and gets longer moving toward its tail. Its hair is mainly brown with distinctive black and white stripes on its shoulders and front legs.
Scientific name: Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Continent: Central and South America
Habitat: Rainforests, grasslands, forests and semi-arid regions
Size: Up to 7 feet long
Weight: 40-140 pounds
Diet: The giant anteater is a carnivore and eats ants, termites, soft-bodied grubs, eggs, larvae and other insects.
Reproduction:Gestation 190 days; one offspring
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Conservation Status: Vulnerable
The giant anteater can flick its tongue up to 160 times per minute while eating and can collect 35,000 ants and termites each day.
Giant anteaters have no teeth.
A giant anteater’s tongue muscles originate from the posterior portion of the breastbone, instead of the throat as in most mammals.