Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus)


Family:                    Myrmecophagidae.

Status:                     No special status.

Size:                        Six to nine inches length; weight up to one lb.

Diet:                        Insectivore.

Characteristics:        Nocturnal.

Area:                       Mexico, Central America, South America.

Offspring:                One.

Predators:               Jaguar, puma, eagle, owl, hawk.



·       The silky anteater is also known as the pygmy anteater, dwarf anteater, or two-toed anteater.

·       Silky anteaters are the smallest anteaters.

·       Anteaters are also sometimes called ant bears.

·       Anteaters once belonged to the order of animals called Edentata, which means “toothless.”

·       The silky anteater emits a shrill call when threatened.



The silky anteater lives in trees and rarely descends to the ground. They have two large, curved claws on their front legs that they use to hold onto tree branches, and to defend themselves if threatened. The tail of the silky anteater is long and prehensile, which means it can hold onto branches and swing using its tail. The silky anteater can usually be found in ceiba (silk cotton) trees, which provide excellent camouflage for these silky, golden-coloured animals. They sleep during the day in a nest of dry leaves in the hollow of a tree, and during the night, they feed on ants and other insects, or sometimes fruit if no insects are available. One anteater may eat up to 8,000 ants per night, using its long sticky tongue to sweep them up into its mouth. Anteaters have poor eyesight, but an excellent sense of smell and hearing. Because they rarely descend from trees, they obtain their water from licking moisture such as dew or rainwater from leaves. When they do walk on the ground, they move slowly because their long claws get in the way. To compensate, the silky anteater turns its claws inwards and walks on the outsides of its feet.



Silky anteaters live in tropical forests ranging from southern Mexico through Bolivia and parts of Brazil. They can usually be found high up in trees, but underneath the top canopy to escape detection by birds of prey. Because they only come out at night and blend in with the forest background, silky anteaters are seldom seen.



Silky anteaters live alone or with a mate. Mating season is in summer, and after a five to six month pregnancy, the female gives birth in their nest high up in a tree. Both parents care for the youngster, and when it begins to be weaned, they bring back pre-digested insects for the baby. Sometime the male carries the baby around with him on his back. At approximately nine months, the youngster begins to go out on its own, and by one year, it’s fully grown. The average lifespan of a silky anteater is two years.