The Giant Anteater is such a unique and intriguing creature, it is featured on the third coin released in the extremely popular series “Wildlife of Nicaragua” collector edition. Giant Anteater is the largest of the three remaining anteater species. Anteaters belong to the suborder Vermilingua and together with the sloths, they are within the order Pilosa. Check out our blog on “The Three-toed Sloth”.
Wildlife of Nicaragua - Photo Courtesy of Exclusive Coins
Giant Anteaters are approximately the size of a German Shepherd and can grow up to 7 feet long from snout to tail. Anteaters are “edentate,” which means they have no teeth. They are characterized by what they eat—ants-- and have an elongated head and specialized tongue.
A Day in the Life
Nicaraguan Anteater - Photo from treknature.com
The wild giant anteater spends most of its day foraging for food and preying predominantly on ants and termites. Having a keen sense of smell that’s 40 times more powerful than a human’s, the anteater can easily detect an anthill or mound. Once a mound is on its radar, the anteater will tear into it with its 4 inch, sharp claws. They waste no time by moving and eating fast, since the ants do fight back with their awful stings. The giant anteater’s elongated head and snout are designed to penetrate termite mounds and anthills. An anteaters tongue can dart in and out of an anthill up to 160 times per minute, which allows them to eat up to 35,000 ants and termites in a day!
Old Anteater Mail Postage Stamp from Nicaragua - Courtesy of San Diego Zoo
Fun fact: The Giant Anteater’s tongue is called an “evolutionary masterpiece”. Approximately 2 feet long and a spaghetti-like shape, the tongue has tiny, backward-curving papillae covered in thick sticky saliva that aid in feeding.
Habitat and Family
The Giant Anteater can be found in tropical forests and grasslands in Central and South America. While they are typically solitary animals, they come together to mate and the female anteater usually gives birth to one baby, or pup, in a year. The pup is fully weaned around 9 months but will stay with its mother till it reaches the age of two.
Giant Anteater - Photo Courtesy of National Geographic
Interested in other creatures featured on Nicaragua's coins? You can read about the Jaguar Coin, the first coin issued in this series, here.
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