Tuesday, January 27: Both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo will be closed due to inclement weather. Please travel safely.


Giant Anteater

Myrmecophaga tridactyla

About the Giant Anteater


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia
Order: Pilosa
Family: Myrmecophagidae
Genus:  Myrmecophaga
Species: tridactyla

The giant anteater has small eyes and ears, a long snout, and a bushy tail. It's typically brown with white and black stripes. Its tongue can elongate to approximately two feet in order to capture prey. The giant anteater is not aggressive, but when cornered it will defend itself with the four-inch claws of its forepaws.

Anteater Facts

Anteaters have small eyes and ears, long snouts, and bushy tails. They tend to be brown with white and black stripes. Anteaters’ tongues are long and lean, and they can elongate to 2 feet in order to capture prey!

They can reach 7 feet from the tip of their snout to the end of their tail and can weigh up to 120 pounds.

Ants and termites. Anteaters can eat up to 35,000 insects in a day.

Reproduction & Gestation:
Females have one offspring per year after 190 days of gestation. Females give birth standing up, and the newborn climbs onto her back. Young anteaters resemble adults, just smaller. Sexual maturity is reached around 2 years of age.

Anteaters are generally solitary animals. They sleep in hollow depressions in the ground for about 15 hours per day, using their long tails as blankets.

Though they’re not aggressive, anteaters can be fierce. When cornered, an anteater will use its tail for balance and its 4-inch claws as defense. Most communication occurs between young and their mothers or when fighting.

Anteaters walk on their knuckles as to not ruin their claws. The soft, muddy rainforest floor does not damage their knuckles.

They have an excellent sense of smell and seem to use it to find their insect prey. Anteaters never destroy an ant’s nest; this way they can return later to eat more.

Central and South America, from Honduras to Paraguay and Argentina.

Median Life Expectancy:
Males: 15 years
Females: 10 years

Threats in the Wild:
Anteaters are prey to large wild cats such as jaguars and cougars.

Fun Facts:
Anteaters’ body temperature is generally between 90 and 91 degrees F, one of the lowest of all placental mammals.