This is the smallest species of anteater, ranging from 13-20 inches long, with a 12 inch tail, and weighing 6-13 ounces. It has golden-brown fur that it uses for camouflage. It has a short tube-like pink nose and a prehensile tail. The forefeet each have a large claw. The hind feet each have small claws used for climbing branches.
Habitat and Range:
These anteaters can be found in forests from southern Mexico to Bolivia and Brazil. They can be found in Ceiba (kapok) trees, which provide excellent camouflage because the sheen of its seed pods and the silky fur of the anteater are almost identical.
Strictly insectivorous, the silky anteater feeds on ants, termites, and beetles. An anteater will eat from 100 to 8000 ants per day.
This usually solitary animal is arboreal, slow-moving, nocturnal, and almost never descends to the ground. Due to predators, the silky anteater never stays in the same tree for more than one day.
When defending itself, the silky anteater will stand on its hind legs, grasping tree limbs with its hind feet and prehensile tail, and raising its fore feet to its head, it will slash predators with its large claws.
The gestation period for a silky anteater is 120-150 days. One young is born and placed in a nest of dry leaves in a hole in a tree trunk. Both parents raise the young; the male even sometimes carries the young on his back.
These anteaters are not threatened. However, this is a very secretive and solitary species, which makes a census very difficult. Also this species has a poor husbandry record in captivity, seldom surviving for more than 30 days. The longevity record for this species in captivity is two years and four months.
Habitat and Range:
This animal is sometimes hunted by natives for food. It is reported to defecate only once a day. Some of the feces examined by scientists, showed a large quantity of exoskeleton fragments of insects, indicating that the Silky Anteater does not possess either chitinase or chitobiase, digestive enzymes.