- Anteaters have specialized tongues: Anteaters are known for their long, sticky tongues that can reach up to two feet in length. These tongues are covered in thousands of tiny, backward-facing papillae, which help them trap and collect ants and termites. The tongue is also coated with sticky saliva, making it easier for the anteater to catch its prey.
- Anteaters have poor eyesight: Despite their large eyes, anteaters actually have relatively poor eyesight. They rely more on their sense of smell and hearing to locate ants and termites. Their eyes are small and adapted to see in low light conditions, as they are primarily nocturnal animals.
- Anteaters have powerful claws: Anteaters have long, sharp claws on their front feet that are perfectly designed for digging into termite mounds and anthills. The claws can be up to four inches long and are non-retractable, meaning they are always exposed. These claws are their main tools for breaking into insect nests and extracting their prey.
- Anteaters have no teeth: Anteaters lack teeth altogether. Instead, they have a specialized stomach called the gizzard that grinds up the insects they consume. This unique adaptation allows them to consume their prey whole and process it in their digestive system. They can eat up to 35,000 ants or termites in a single day.
- Anteaters have a long tongue-retracting mechanism: While it is commonly believed that anteaters flick their tongues in and out rapidly to catch ants, they actually use a slow and deliberate movement. After extending their tongues into an anthill or termite mound, they use powerful muscles at the base of their tongue to retract it back into their mouth, bringing the captured insects along with it. This process can be repeated several times within seconds to capture multiple prey items.