What Do Anteaters Eat?

anteaters-eat Credit: Mark Jones Roving Tortoise Photos/Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

According to National Geographic, anteaters swallow 35,000 ants and termites whole on a daily basis, and About.com states that they also eat other grubs and insects occasionally. Each anteater species has its own insect preference, according to Wikipedia. Large anteaters are capable of penetrating the hard covering of terrestrial insects' nests, while small species are equipped to eat arboreal insects that live on small branches.

In order to avoid the defense mechanisms of its prey, feeding anteaters spend roughly one minute at each nest before moving on. This allows them to lick up as many ants or termites at a time as possible. According to National Geographic, the anteater is capable of flicking its tongue up to 160 times per minute. The giant anteater typically has to visit approximately 200 nests in order to fulfill its daily needs.

Anteaters find their prey by using their keen sense of smell, as their vision is very poor. They have large claws which are used to rip open insect nests, and long, thin tongues that can extend past the length of their head, which are used to quickly lap up insects. After eating, they do not destroy the nest, allowing them to return for multiple feedings.