Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about tamanduas and giant anteaters

SM Junio 2011 128

We continue with some additional notes on some of the most amazing mammals in the region of the study area. Although tamanduas and giant anteaters can be found also in the deep Amazon forest, they are also common in fragmented landscapes, especially the giant anteaters.

Tamanduas are small-sized mammals with a long snout and a sticky tongue used to capture termites, ants, and bees. They are good climbers and you can see them walking on the ground or climbing trees in search of food. We had found both. They have a prehensile tail like the one from howler monkeys that help them while climbing trees.

They are diurnal and nocturnal, and we found them sleeping on the upper part of medium-sized trees. Solitary animals. We mostly found them inside forest fragments, although on a few occasions we saw them using living fences to move between forest fragments. In general, in the area, they are not hunted, and farmers pay little attention to them.

Giant anteaters are a larger mammal, terrestrial. They are diurnal, although sometimes you can also see them moving at night. They mainly feed on ants and termites. They use their long and sticky tongue to extract ants and termites from the tunnels in their nest that they destroy with the strong arms and claws.

We usually saw them in the pastures walking looking for food. On some occasions we also found them inside the forest resting on the ground, covering their bodies with their long hairy tail on top of them.

They are solitary, although on a few occasions we had seen up to three of them walking together, probably a female with a juvenile and a male trying to mate with the female. Babies are carried in the back of their moms and their fur pattern is like the back of their mom’s back hair.

They have a developed smell sense that they use to find their food. However, their sight is not so good and some of my closest encounters with them are in pastures where they just walk towards me because they didn’t notice me until they are too close.

Probably one of their main threat in the area additional to deforestation is roadkill, Although the can gallop and move fast when they need it, they usually walk slowly and cars crossing roads at high speed in the area (and region) didn’t stop or slow down for them and there is a lot of casualties because of this reason. They are not hunted in the study area.

Although both tamanduas and giant anteaters are still present in the area, they both still need forest areas to live and rest. Wildlife crossing, such as culverts, tunnels, overpasses, and viaduct could be important tools to reduce roadkill impact especially on giant anteaters and other terrestrial mammals that still persist in the region.

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