Silky Anteater

Silky Anteater or Pygmy Anteater (Cyclopes didactylus) is a species of anteater from Central and South America. It ranges from extreme southern Mexico south to Brazil and possibly Paraguay. It is the only species in the Cyclopes genus and the Cyclopedidae family.

It is the smallest member of the anteaters, with total length ranging from 14.71 to 17.72 in (360 to 450 mm) and usually weighing less than 14.11 oz (400 g). It has a dense and soft golden brown fur, short snout, prehensile tail and two very enlarged claws in each forepaw.

Natural history

It is a nocturnal and arboreal animal, found in lowland rainforests. It stays in continuous canopy where they can move to different places without the need to descend from trees. Females have smaller home ranges than males.

The Silky Anteater is a slow moving animal and feeds mainly on ants. It eats from 100 to 8000 per day. Sometimes it can also feed on other insects, such as termites and small coccinellid beetles. It is reported to defecate only once a day. It is a solitary animal and gives birth to a single young that is usually placed inside a nest of dead leaves built in tree holes.

Some authors suggest that the Silky Anteater usually dwells in silk cotton trees (genus Ceiba). Because of its resemblance to the seedpod fibers of these trees, it can use the trees as camouflage. It keeps safely guarded from attacks of predators such as hawks, especially Harpy eagles. Although they are rarely seen in the forest, it is said that they can be found easier when they are foraging on lianas at night.

When threatened, the Silky Anteater, like other anteaters, defends itself by standing on its hind legs. It holds its forefeet close to its face so they can strike, with its sharp claws.