Silky Anteater

Photo Credit – Rob Foster

From the Files of the Odd, Overlooked and Unappreciated, I present the silky anteater. At first glance, the silky anteater looks like a cross between a lemur and a sloth. But no, it’s a fuzzy anteater the size of a tennis ball. Their so interesting-looking they’re cute. The elusive nocturnal creatures live in the canopy layer of Central and South America’s rainforests.

In addition to likeness, silky anteaters do take after sloths in another way – they sleep a lot. Being an anteater, though, it also has a sticky, long, spaghetti noodle-like tongue perfectly designed to slurp up ants and termites (up to 8,000 in one day!). And since anteaters don’t have teeth, they just slurp and swallow. Yum!

When threatened, this little creature isn’t afraid to defend itself. A silky anteater will anchor itself to a branch with its tail (which is longer than its body) and stand up on two back legs to its full height of roughly 15 inches, then throw a punch. However, like sloths, the silky anteater’s best defense is staying hidden. When curled up, the silky anteater looks like the large seed pod of the Ceiba tree thanks to the anteater’s silky fur.

Their camouflage, and the fact that they rarely descend to the ground, make the silky anteater the least-studied anteater in the world. There are seven different species of this anteater, yet scientists recently discovered what they believe to be an eighth. And there may be more!