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Anteaters: Myrmecophagidae - Behavior And Reproduction

female birth silky giant

All anteaters are believed to be solitary, only meeting up to breed. They are thought to be polygynous (puh-LIH-juh-nus), meaning males mate with more than one female. After giant anteaters mate, the male leaves, but the male silky anteater helps to feed its young while it's in the nest. The gestation period, the amount of time before the female gives birth, is 120 to 150 days for silky anteaters and tamandua. The giant anteater gives birth after about 190 days.

Female anteaters usually give birth to one young. The female's claws are so sharp that she cannot touch her cub. It climbs onto her back and lives there for six to nine months.

Silky anteaters are nocturnal, meaning that they are active at night. The other anteaters are active at night and during the day.


Giant anteaters use their sense of smell to find underground ant nests or termite mounds that can be up to 12 feet (4 meters) above ground. After using their claws to break into the mounds, anteaters use their long tongues to scoop up the insects. They can flick their tongues 150 times a minute into nests.

Anteaters use their claws to protect themselves against predators including hawks, mountain lions, and people.

Anteaters: Myrmecophagidae - Silky Anteater (cyclopes Didactylus): Species Accounts [next] [back] Anteaters: Myrmecophagidae - Physical Characteristics

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How do they do the sexs