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Giant anteater facts for kids

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Giant anteater
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Pilosa
Family: Myrmecophagidae
Genus: Myrmecophaga
Linnaeus, 1758
Binomial name
Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Linnaeus, 1758

The giant anteater, Myrmecophaga, is an animal that lives in Central and South America.It is also known as the ant bear.

It the only mammal without teeth. Its diet consists of termites and ants, hence the name. It is the largest anteater: its length is between 182 cm and 217 cm. Males weigh between 33 and 41 kg, female are 27 and 39 kg. This species lives on the ground, in contrast to other living anteaters and sloths which are arboreal or semi-arboreal. It forages in open areas and rests in more forested habitats.

Mode of life

The giant anteater is adapted to eat termites and ants, and does not have any teeth in its mouth. It uses its front claws to dig them up and its long, sticky tongue to collect them. They eat about 30,000 ants and termites every day.

The tongue can reach up to 45 cm (18 in), longer than the length of the skull, and move in and out around 160 times per minute (nearly three times per second). The anteater's tongue has little to no attachments to the hyoid and this is what allows it to flick its tongue at such distances and speed. The hyoid apparatus is large, V-shaped and flexible and supports the tongue as it goes in and out of the mouth. Before being swallowed, insects are crushed against the palate.

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