What’s so Silky about this Anteater?

It looks like something Jim Henson thought up with its large eyes, odd proportions and stuffed animal like qualities. But the one quality that this unreal looking animal has on Mr, Henson’s creations is that it’s actually real and you can find it lurking in the South American Rainforest. The Silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) though isn’t the easiest live action plush animal to find though. You see with its large eyes, it’s made for coming out in the dark of night and hiding during the day, then there are its arboreal (living in the treetops) qualities. The silky anteater has claws instead of fingers, giving it a great advantage to hang on tree limbs without getting tired. Then there’s just how tiny it is, only getting up to 18in (45cm) long. So With all of this in mind, Yes, this is one of the harder animals to find, especially in the wild. But what a beautiful sight to see. What an accomplishment to spot one of these in its native habitat.

In Trinidad, the silky anteater was for a time known as the ‘Poor-me-one’, meaning “Poor me, all alone”, as people thought it was the source of the sorrowful call of a human-sounding voice in the forests at night. But it turned out that a bird was the source of the sad sound. In contrast, the silky anteater emits a high-pitched, shrill call when threatened, but is otherwise silent.

Now, those claws come in handy for tearing open ant nests, too. And as the silky ant-eater’s long tongue is equipped with small spikes and mucus, it is “perfect for gathering up ants and termites”. Active almost continuously from sunset until shortly before dawn, the silky anteater sure does gather up and consume a lot of ants—up to 8,000 in a single night!

As well as ants and termites, the silky anteater is known to eat other insects too, such as small beetles. It also eats fruit

Now for some quick Facts:

  • The silky anteater is also known as the “pygmy anteater,” “dwarf anteater,” or “two-toed anteater.”
  • Silky anteaters are the smallest anteaters.
  • Anteaters are also sometimes called “ant bears.”
  • Anteaters once belonged to the order of mammals called Edentata, which means “toothless.”
  • The silky anteater emits a shrill call when threatened.

Nerd Facts:

Class: Mammalia
Order: Xenartha
Family:    Myrmecophagidae
Size:    Length: 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm)
Weight: 6.2 to 17.6 ounces (175 to 500 g)
Diet: Ants, insects and occasionally fruit
Distribution: Mexico, Central America and South America
Young:  1 per year
Animal Predators:  Jaguars, eagles, owls and hawks
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: No special terms
Lifespan: Average 2 years

 

Home Range

 

Conservation

Silky anteater numbers are relatively stable, but they are being negatively affected by the destruction of their habitat. all steps related towards protecting its home range positively effect the survival of this species.

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