Anteater Zoo

Giant anteater

Myrmecophaga tridactyla

At the Detroit Zoo
Female giant anteaters Chesley and Bissell inhabit the American Grasslands. Chesley was born in 1996 and arrived at the Detroit Zoo the following year. She seems to enjoy being outdoors each morning. Chesley’s great-granddaughter Bissell, born in 2008, was named after the vacuum cleaner.

Description
Giant anteaters have very large, long noses, tongues that can be up to 2 feet long and very sharp claws. They have very small eyes and ears. Their long, bushy tails can be as long as their bodies. Giant anteaters’ coats are thick and they get longer moving toward their tails. Their hair is mainly brown with distinctive black and white stripes on their shoulders and front legs.

Fun Facts

  • The giant anteater can flick its tongue up to 160 times per minute while eating and can collect 35,000 ants and termites each day.

  • Giant anteaters have no teeth.

  • A giant anteater’s tongue muscles originate from the posterior portion of the breastbone, instead of the throat as in most mammals.