Silky Anteater, Cyclopes didactylus

The silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus), also known as the pygmy anteater, is a species of anteater that can be found in South and Central America in a rage that extends from southern Veracruz and  Oaxaca, through most of Central America, to Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and on the island of Trinidad. This species prefers to reside in a number of forested habitats including semi deciduous forests, mangrove forests, and tropical rainforests. It can be found at elevations between sea level and 4,900 feet. It holds seven subspecies including C. d. didactylus, C. d. mexicanus, and C. d. dorsalis.

The silky anteater reaches an average body length between fourteen and eighteen inches, with a weight of up to fourteen ounces. It has thick, soft fur that can vary in color from yellow to grey with a silver shine, although subspecies are often darker in color and can hold varying streaks of dark fur. Each forepaw holds four claws, two of which nearly touch each other when it is clinging to branches.

Like other anteaters, the silky anteater is solitary in nature and spends its time in the trees, preferring to move about in the canopy rather than descend a tree and find another to climb. It is active during the nighttime hours, spending much of its time foraging for ants or other insects, like termites.  This species can breed twice a year, giving birth to one young after each pregnancy. Young remain hidden in a nest made from dried leaves and will begin consuming solid food when they are one-third of their adult weight.

It is thought by some that the silky anteater resides silk cotton trees, which produce pods of cotton that resemble the fur of the species, in order to hide from predators including harpy eagles. This species can defend itself by standing on its hind legs and swiping at predators with its sharp claws. It appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Silky Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus). Credit: Eveha/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)