What do the Giant Armadillo, Echidna, Aardvark, Numbat, Silky Anteater, and Numbat have in common. These fearless hunters are known as “ants and termites” terminators.
The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga pterodactyl), the largest species of anteater, is native to Central and South America. Its habitat includes swamps, grassland savannahs, woodlands and humid forests. It grows to about 2.1 m (7 ft) long, with a 0.91 m (3-ft) long bushy tail. An adult can weigh from 29 to 64 kg (65 to 140 pounds). A giant anteater has tapered head, small eyes, long nose and round ears. Its coarse, straw-like hair may be gray or brown, which grows up to 40 cm long on the tail.
The Silky Anteater or Pygmy Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) is the smallest member of the anteater found in tropical forests of Central and South America. It can usually be found high up in trees specially in ceiba (silk cotton) trees. It grows from 32 to 52 cm (12 to 21 in) in length and weighs from 175 to 500 g. This nocturnal and arboreal animal has soft golden brown or gray fur with a brown stripe on the back. It has short pink snout, long tongue, prehensile tail, and has two toes with curved claws on each of its front feet. The silky Anteater is a slow-moving animal but can consume between 100 and 8000 ants a day. It also feeds on other insects like beetles.
The Northern Tamandua (Tamandua Mexicana) or Lesser anteater, is endemic to tropical and subtropical forests from southern Mexico, through Central America, and to the coastal forests of Ecuador and Peru. It is a medium-sized anteater which grows to about 130 cm (50 in) long including the long, hairless prehensile tail. Adults weigh between 3.2 to 5.4 kilograms (7.1 to 12 lb). It has pale yellow to off-white fur mark with a distinctive “sweater vest” patch of deep black. It has small eyes and ears, and a long snout. Though lacking in teeth, it has long, extensible, and sticky tongue used to catch ants and termites. It can live up to 16 years in the wild.
The Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla), also called the Collared Anteater or Lesser Anteater, is a medium-sized anteater found in high altitude rainforests and savannas of South America. Generally, it has brown to tan fur with black patch resembling a vest running across its shoulder down to the back and sides. This mammal has four sharply clawed toes on their front feet and five toes on its back limbs. Adults Southern Tamanduas grow from 535 mm to 880 mm (21.1 in to 31.5 in) long with a 400 mm to 590 mm (15.7 in to 23.2 in) long prehensile tail. It has small eyes and poor vision but good sense of smell used to track down ants and termites. It also feeds on bees and honey.
The Giant Armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is the largest extant species of armadillo found in South America. It lives in burrows near water in woodland, grassland, and forest habitats. This solitary and nocturnal animal measures from 13 to 150 cm (5 to 59 in ) long and weighs from 85 g to 54 kg (3 oz to 120 lbs). Overall, it is dark brown in color, except for the head, tail and underpart of the shell, which are nearly white. Its neck and body is protected with 14 to 17 moveable bands.
The giant armadillo has around 80 to 100 teeth and also possesses very long front claws. An omnivore, it primarily feeds on ants and termites and has been known to hunt upon spiders, worms, snakes, and plants. Giant armadillos can live 12 to 15 years. It is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List.>
Pink Fairy Armadillo
Just 90–115 mm (3.5 to 4.5 inches) long excluding the tail, the Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo. An endangered species, it is native to Argentina and generally inhabits dry grasslands areas. It is pale rose or pink in color and possesses armored back plates.
What is unique about this animal is that it is the only armadillo whose dorsal shell is almost completely separated from the body. It is a nocturnal animal, which spends much of its time in underground burrows. A fearless ants and termites hunter, it occasionally feeds on insects and larvae, worms, snails, as well as small plants.
The Aardvark (Orycteropus afer), meaning “Earth Pig”, is a medium-sized, pig-like mammal native to Africa. It has a stout body with a pale, yellowish-gray colored skin. Its back is slightly arched and covered with coarse hairs. The head is elongated, the ears are long, the mouth is tube-shaped and the tongue is extremely long and thin. On average, aardvark measures between 1 to 1.3 m (3.3 to 4.3 ft)with a tail which can reach to 70 cm (28 in) long. It weighs from 40 and 65 kg (88 and 140 lb). A solitary and nocturnal animal, it feeds primarily on ants and termites.
The Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) or Banded Anteater is a day-active marsupial endemic to Western Australia. It is a small carnivorous animal between 35 and 45 cm (13-18″) long and weighs 280 and 550 grams. This colorful creature varies in color from soft grey to reddish-brown, with a contrasting black stripe running from its lower back and rump. It sports a pointed muzzle, small, round-tipped ears and a distinctive bushy tail.
Numbat has a long, sticky tongue for eating ants and termites
The Echidna, or Spiny Anteater, along with the Platypus, are the only egg-laying mammals (monotremes). Native to Australia and New Guinea, it is a small, nocturnal animal between 35 – 45 cm long and weighs between 2-7 kg. Its body is covered with a “normal” short coarse hair and long spines. It has a small mouth, a pointed snout and long sticky tongue. The echidna has a very short, flat limbs with long powerful, curved claws used in tearing open anthills. It then uses its long, sticky tongue to collect its prey which primarily are ants and termites, though some species also eat worms and insect larvae.
The Pangolin or Scaly Anteater is a weird-looking animal found in Southeast Asia and Africa. Its skin is covered by large, razor-sharp, plate-like keratin scales. Depending on the species, the pangolin measures from 30 cm to 100 cm (12 to 39 inches). This solitary and nocturnal mammal has short legs with long, sharp front claws used for digging into termite mounds and anthills. It then uses its extremely long tongue to collect its meal. Pangolin has a life span of up to twenty years in captivity.