The giant anteater, which is native to Central and South America, is the largest of the anteaters. It weighs about 45 to 86 pounds, and its body is usually between 3 and 4 feet long, with a bushy tail that is nearly as long. Its feet are clawed, with the front feet having three especially sharp claws used to tear open ant hills and tree trunks for food.
The giant anteater has a tongue that protrudes 2 feet from its mouth and is actually attached to its breastbone. It uses its tongue to eat ants and termites.
The giant pangolin is another type of anteater that is native to Africa. It's unusual for a mammal in that it is covered with scales and is hairless except for its eyelashes. To defend itself, the pangolin rolls up in a ball and presents its sharp scales to an adversary. It also has claws on its forefeet to tear apart anthills and termite colonies. Pangolins protect their claws by basically walking on their wrists, while the giant anteater walks on its knuckles. Unlike the giant anteater, the pangolin digs burrows.
The southern tamandua, which looks like a smaller version of the giant anteater and is found in South America, is between 21 and 31.5 inches long with a long, prehensile tail. All three species of anteater are solitary.