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Giant anteater

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incl. May 11, 2010. Posted in Mammals

Insectivores (Insectivora) They are divided into six families (hedgehogs, shrews, pangolins, armadillos, moles and anteaters).
The largest of the anteaters is yurumi, or Great Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) lives in the forests and savannahs of America.

Tamandua, or the middle anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) and Miko dorado, or the small anteater (Cuclopes didactylus) live with him. Yurumi, because of its enormous size (body length - approx. 2 m., Weight - up to 36 kg.) Leads a land-based lifestyle. The rest prefer life on trees. All anteaters have no teeth, so they intentionally swallow pebbles and sand in order to grind the eaten ants in their muscular stomach. Their long, sticky tongue can pull insects out of the anthill very quickly (160 times per minute), while the anteater eats about 500 ants in one sitting. Yurumi is not only big, but also strong. He can kill a dog with one blow of claws, the length of which is 10 cm. Even large predators try to avoid him.

Why is listed in the Red Book

In the near future, a giant anteater may be threatened with extinction, the number of species decreases. Currently, Argentina has disappeared wherever there are human settlements.

In the north of the country they are rare, in Brazil are rare in Amazonia, the Canastra National Park in the east of the country are common, in some places of Paraguay they are still common (1970), in Peru they are rare, from many places have disappeared, in Guatemala, apparently, no longer occur. although there is a message about their presence on the Pacific coast between San Jose and the border with El Salvador, in Guiana (Fr.) and Costa Rica are rare,

Bolivia is in danger of extinction. In Colombia, according to 1970, they disappeared from a number of places, along the Caribbean coast they are threatened with extinction, in other places it may soon be endangered. It is not known whether a giant anteater ever lived in Uruguay, but in 1971 it was not found in this country.

No data are available on Guatemala, and by 1950 it had apparently disappeared, and if it had survived, it was probably only on the territory between San Jose and the border with El Salvador. In El Salvador disappeared. By 1978, it was threatened with extinction in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

The decrease in the number of anteaters is associated with hunting and changes in the habitat of animals by humans. In Guiana (Fr.) and Brazil are protected by law.

Where dwells

Distributed from Guatemala, Venezuela and Guyana to Peru, Northern Argentina and Southern Brazil. Area M. t. tridactyla stretches from Venezuela and Guyana to Peru, Paraguay, southern Brazil and northern Argentina. M. t. artata is found in Colombia and in western Venezuela.

To the north it is replaced by M. t. centralis, which goes from Belize south along the Caribbean coast to Colombia and along the Pacific coast to Guatemala. In Peru, the area is confined to the Amazon region.

How to find out

The largest sizes in the family. The length of the body is 100-120 cm. The length of the tail is 60-90 cm. Weight is 18-25 kg. The body is compressed laterally. The head is very elongated in the front section, which has a tubular shape.

On the forelimbs, the second and third fingers are very large with powerful claws, the fifth finger is missing. The hairline is high (low on the head), thick but rough.

Long hair (up to 40 cm long) forms high ridges on the ventral and dorsal sides of the tail. A comb of elongated hair also runs along the middle of the back.

The color is gray, and the diagonal strip passing through the body from the chest to the sacrum is black with white bordering.

The hind limbs, tail and belly are blackish. Two nipples in the chest area. The tongue can be extended by 61 cm, its diameter in the thickest place is 10-15 mm.

Great Anteater, Tamandu and Miko Dorado (Myrmecophaga tr>

Unusual look anteater leads to the idea that nature made a mistake by creating such a strange creature. A strongly elongated head ends with a narrow muzzle, similar to a pork snout. A half-meter tongue is longer than that of any land animal. And the claws are rather big. But the mouth is tiny, and there are no teeth in the mouth or stomach. But, no matter how strange the animal may seem to us, there are always reasons that it should be just that. And a long narrow muzzle, and a tongue sticky from thick saliva, and strong claws - all serve one purpose: I write and defend myself from predators.

There are three brothers in the family of anteaters - large (yurumi), medium (tamandu, you see it in the photo) and small (miko dorado). All of them live in Central and South America. A large anteater lives on earth, tamandu prefers a tree lifestyle, walks slowly on earth with a heavy gait, and a small, or dwarf, anteater rarely leaves the tops of the forest.

Yurumi is a clumsy creation. At night, and often during the day, wandering, having muzzled into the ground, tumble through uninhabited places in the forest until clumsy feet and sniffing nose lead him to an anthill or termite. It goes slowly, so you can catch it on foot. The eyes of a large anteater are weak: to be full, the yurumi only have to rely on their sense of smell and formidable weapons - powerful paws and sharp claws.

One and a half meter long the body of a large anteater rests on four legs. The front ones are strong and short, the rear ones are thicker and longer.

The toes of the front legs are armed with sharp, noticeably curved claws, two of which are up to 10 centimeters long. When the anteater goes, he bends them so that they do not interfere with him, and steps on the ground with the back of his fingers.

Having discovered a nest of termites, the anteater strikes it with its front paws. The impact is so strong that the hard walls of the termite masonry do not stand up and collapse. Then the anteater pokes its narrow muzzle into the breach and reaches the middle of the nest with a long worm-like tongue. Thin as a cord, sticky tongue works with amazing speed. A large anteater ejects and draws it into his mouth up to 160 times per minute! And each time it is abundantly moistened with sticky saliva.

Since the anteater has no teeth, insects, as well as mobiles and berries, which he sometimes grabs with his lips, enter the stomach intact and are rubbed there by the muscular walls with a hard lining. Pebbles and sand picked up along the road, like millstones, help process food.

Of the 30 thousand ants and termites caught during the day by a large anteater, not one returns home. They can’t get out of their mouth: on the inner surface of the cheeks and sky there are keratinized papillae that, like a brush, scrape off all insects from the tongue.

Sometimes, while traveling, Yurumi reaches the river and, without hesitation, swims. And on the other side, he continues to search for termites. Tired of wandering and eating, he goes to rest, each time in a new place. Usually a large anteater digs a shallow hole near the roots of trees, lays on it on its side, sticks its head between the front paws and covers itself with a magnificent fluffy tail. I must say that the fur at the anteater is hard, short on the head. But on the back of the yurumi - a real mane and on the tail a hairy fan sank 40 centimeters long.

A large anteater does not know how to climb trees, but his middle brother, Tamandu, is not so awkward and a beautiful poison frog. Tamandu is half the size of Yurumi, and its claws on its front legs are half as long. But this does not prevent the average anteater as deftly as it is large, to destroy the construction of termites and to get insects with a sticky tongue. Up to 500 grams of ants, termites and their larvae were found in the stomachs of tamanda.

Both tamandu and the dwarf anteater sleep during the day, and hunt at night. As soon as the sun rises, the dwarf anteater begins to seek shelter, where he could hide for the whole day. If you are lucky and there will be a hollow on the way, the anteater will hide in it. And if he does not find the hollow, he will choose a branch with especially dense foliage. He clings to her with hind legs and tail and falls asleep, hanging upside down. From afar, a dwarf anteater can be mistaken for the fruit of a tree. After all, Miko Dorado is the size of a squirrel, his fur is often golden, and the soles of his feet and the tip of his nose are red.

A large anteater in many parts of America is heavily destroyed and therefore taken under protection. But the dwarf anteater is obviously not as rare as it is often written about.

Source: I. Vronskaya, Young Naturalist magazine 1975 - 12

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