Nicaragua’s Giant Anteaters

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Nicaragua, you would do well to spend some time visiting some of the country’s great National Parks. Here you will see a variety of creatures – some of which may be well known to you but others which will stir your imagination and arouse your curiosity. One example of such a creature is the giant anteater.

This somewhat unusual looking creature is roughly the same size as a German shepherd dog though it looks nothing like our more common, four-legged friends. Its most outstanding feature has to be the anteater’s tubular muzzle which is elongated and houses a long, worm-like tongue. This unusually shaped appendage helps the anteater to reach into small holes where it may find its favorite food – ants and termites. Unlike many other animals, the anteater cannot open its small mouth very wide and it does not have any teeth so it really poses little threat to other creatures.

While it may remind you somewhat of a sort of sloth walking on all-fours, the giant anteater certainly isn’t sluggish. Its body is covered with long, stiff black-gray hair and you will find that there is a black stripe bordered by white running along its belly. Its legs are incredibly fluffy and its tail is covered by long straw-like hair. While the giant anteater’s tail may grow up to three feet long, the hairs on it may grow up to 15 inches in length. This gives the animal a somewhat backward and unbalanced appearance when in fact the tail serves as a perfectly useful appendage. The anteater also tends to walk on the knuckles of its front feet since its front feet feature two long, hook-like claws which make walking difficult. These claws are used to dig out ant heaps and to dig burrows and are very important to the giant anteater. The back legs are more normal and features five toes which are used normally.

The average giant anteater is roughly 3-4 ft long and 2 ft high. They can weight between 35-64 kg’s and their size and weight tends to vary according to sex. It takes them between 2.5 and 4 years to become sexually mature and the female will only give birth to one baby a year. If you are lucky, you may spot this baby riding its mothers back during its first year of life. While giant anteaters are normally quite solitary creatures, you may come across mother-infant groups during breeding season. Clearly the giant anteater is a unique and fascinating creature and Nicaragua just happens to be one of the many places in the world where you can find them. Why not keep an eye out for them on your next trip – you won’t be disappointed.