Extant (resident): Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guyana; Honduras; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela
Possibly Extinct: Argentina; Belize; El Salvador; Guatemala; Uruguay
Giant Anteaters live throughout grasslands and forests of #SouthAmerica, #endangered by severe #deforestation and fires in the #Amazon. Help save them and join the #Boycott4Wildlife on global brands destroying forests!Tweet
The Giant Anteater is found in tropical moist forest, dry forest, savanna habitats and open grasslands; they have also been seen in the Gran Chaco (Meritt 2008, Noss et al. 2008) and timber plantations (Kreutz et al. 2013). Recent camera trap data suggest that the species may be more abundant in areas of upland forest in the Brazilian Amazon than previously thought (F. Miranda pers. comm. 2013). Giant anteaters require large areas for their survival, which should contain forested patches.
Animals are generally solitary. Once per year, females give birth to a single young. Gestation length is 171 to 184 days (Bartmann 1983, Patzl et al. 1998, Knott et al. 2013). Mothers carry their babies on their backs for around six months. Data from captive animals in European zoos show several females reproducing for the first time at 18-22 months, and the oldest known reproductive captive dams were 20-24 years old (unpublished report provided by I. Schappert). For wild females, sexual maturity is usually indicated as being around 2 years however, as it is not possible to determine their age once they reach adult size and long-term population studies on giant anteaters are lacking, there are no data on the longevity, survival rates, or reproductive rates of wild giant anteaters.
The generation length of the Giant Anteater in the wild is therefore unknown, but it is suspected to be around 7 years
The Giant Anteater is at risk from habitat loss in parts of their range, and this is a significant threat to Central American populations in particular. Where this species inhabits grassland habitats, they are particularly susceptible to fires. In Brazil, burning of sugar cane plantations prior to their harvest leads to the death of significant numbers of giant anteaters due to severe burn injuries (F. Miranda pers. comm. 2013). Animals are sometimes killed on roads or by dogs. Giant anteaters are hunted for food throughout their distribution, and are additionally hunted as a pest, for pets or for illegal trade in some parts of their range.
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Miranda, F., Bertassoni, A. & Abba, A.M. 2014. Myrmecophaga tridactyla. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T14224A47441961. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-1.RLTS.T14224A47441961.en. Downloaded on 08 June 2021.
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