Giant anteater, South America, 2 m (6.6 ft) long Anteaters live on the grassy plains and in the rainforests of Central and South America, feeding on ants and termites. They have a long snout and a long tail. Giant anteaters have bushy tails, but other anteater species have tails that help them climb trees. Anteaters detect insects using their keen sense of smell, then break open their nests using their strong claws. They lap up insects with their long, sticky tongues. Their dense fur protects them from attacks by the insects.
A giant anteater digging into a termite moundAnteaters feed on ants and termites, as well as their cocoons and larvae. They use smell to locate a termite mound or ants’ nest, then break them open with their sharp claws. Then they flick their long tongue in and out of the nest to lap up the ants or termites. The tongue of the giant anteater can unfurl an amazing 60 centimetres (2 feet). Finding enough to eat is hard work—an anteater may visit 30 nests an hour as it has to eat quickly then depart before soldier ants arrive in large numbers.
Giant anteaters walk on their wrists to protect their delicate digging claws.
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