Conservation news

Did you know how many insects a Giant Anteater can eat in a day? Candid Animal Cam

  • Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the biggest of the four species of anteaters in the world: the giant anteater.

Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are native to Central and South America. They have dense fur with black stripes and white front legs. Their tails are bushy and act as an insulator to keep them warm during cold nights. They might seem slow but they can climb, swim and even run at speeds of over 48 kilometers per hour.

They are big animals, so to get enough nutrients from an almost all-insect diet, they require an enormous number of ants and termites: up to 30,000 insects a day! To make this possible, giant anteaters can flick their long tongues in and out of their mouths up to 150 times per minute, which is more than twice a second. Giant anteaters also have the lowest body temperature of all placental mammals at around 32.7 Celsius. As a result, they have a slow metabolism, which is helpful when you primarily eat a protein-rich diet that lacks carbohydrates. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

This footage was taken in the Iberá National Park, in northeastern Argentina by Rewilding Argentina Foundation. Special thanks to naturalist Augusto Distel for sharing the conservation work the organization is doing for giant anteaters. You can follow Rewilding Argentina Foundation work’s on Instagram and Twitter.

Banner photo by Rhett A. Butler.

Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino