As their name suggests, the giant anteater is the largest species of anteater in the world and are found in the grasslands and rainforests of Central and South America.
Its name also hints at one of this unusual animal’s favourite foods. Incredibly, an anteater can devour up to 30,000 ants and termites in a day. Once they find an ant hill, the anteater uses its long claws to rip it open and vacuums up the insects with it long nose and stick tongue (which measures up to 50 centimetres in length)!
Giant anteater pups are born with a full coat of hair and ride around on the mother’s back for the first year. This helps to camouflage the infant against the mother’s coat. It also makes the mother look larger to other predators.
Giant anteaters are considered one of the most threatened mammals in Central America and in Brazil. In some areas of the country where they once roamed, there are now none left.
Belfast Zoo is home to the only giant anteaters in Ireland – Pancho and Kara and their daughter Zira, who was born in June 2016. Another pup named Bramble was born in November 2017.
A giant anteater can measure up to two metres in length from snout to the tip of the tail. They can weigh up to 55 kilograms.
The IUCN status of the giant anteater is vulnerable.
For more info on classifications visit www.iucnredlist.org.