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Are Anteaters Carnivores?

If you’ve ever seen an anteater, you might’ve thought that it looks like one strange creature!

These quadrupedal mammals are some of the strangest animals around, and watching them roam around their natural habitats can pose many questions. What kind of animals are they, and what do they eat? Are anteaters carnivores?

Anteaters are not carnivores but omnivores. They eat both plant material and meat from other animals. As omnivores, they have an adaptive diet and can survive by feeding on a few different food sources.

So, what makes the anteater such a strange and unique animal?

In this article, we will take a closer look at the anteater, filling you in on all the details about what it eats, whether or not they’re dangerous to humans, and if they have digestive systems like other animals do.

Keep reading now to learn everything you need to know about whether anteaters are carnivores.

What Do Anteaters Eat?

anteater looking for ants in the dead tree

As we said before, anteaters are not carnivores. Anteaters are, in fact, omnivores, meaning they are not limited to eating only meat but also plant-type foods.

So, what kinds of things do anteaters like to eat?

One of the most obvious dietary food sources for anteaters is ants. It’s even in their name!

Anteaters love to eat ants of all kinds, although they may be more inclined to prey upon certain species of ants over others. Their long, flexible, slender tongues are specially designed to lick ants up out of their anthills, making ants a perfect food source.

Besides ants, anteaters will also eat various other types of food as needed. Ants may be their preferred food source, but anteaters are also known to eat different kinds of insects like termites, soft-bodied grubs, soft fleshy fruits, and even bird eggs.

Anteaters in captivity are likely to eat other more varied types of food, such as skinned fruits, dog food, ground beef, or hard-boiled eggs.

Despite their ability to eat foods from different sources, anteaters will almost always prefer to prey upon ants and termites if they have the chance to.

What Type of Ants Do Anteaters Eat?

fireant on a grass

As everyone knows, anteaters love to eat ants. They can consume up to 35,000 ants each day, and that’s a whole lot of ants!

The most common ants that anteaters like to eat are fire ants. Yes, the tiny red ants pack a punch with their venomous stings!

Anteaters have developed an exceptional tolerance to their stings, making them the perfect food source for them. Additionally, their long thin tongues are great at picking fire ants out of their anthills and deep into their tunnels.

They may also eat other ants, such as sugar ants if they are more readily available than fire ants. However, given that fire ants are extremely common in anteater’s native habitats, they are the most common type of ants that they like to eat.

Besides fire and sugar ants, anteaters will also commonly prey on crickets, termites, or other insects that like to live in the dirt. Insects like these are a perfect source of protein and sugar, which are great nutrients for anteaters to stay healthy and strong.

Can an Anteater Hurt You?

anteater standing on a wood

Anteaters are generally very docile and gentle creatures, not likely to lash out and attack a human. They would be far more likely to run away if they caught sight of any humans nearby.

However, like most animals, anteaters may try to defend themselves if threatened. 

While they don’t have much going for them in defense mechanisms, they have long claws on their front and hind legs. If threatened, an anteater may rear up on their hind legs and swipe at you with their long claws.

While this might hurt and leave some scratches on your skin, swipes from an anteater’s claws will likely do no lasting damage.

Additionally, their mouths are not designed to take large bites out of other animals, so you wouldn’t have to worry about any nasty bites.

This is a different story entirely for the giant anteaters. Normal anteaters are no larger than small dogs at most, making them relatively harmless to humans due to their small size.

But giant anteaters can be dangerous. They are large enough to do some lasting damage if provoked and have even been known to fend off attacking jaguars or pumas.

Do Anteaters Poop?

anteater walking on the ground

Anteaters do poop, and as all animals have to, anteaters must get rid of excess waste from their digestive systems, which comes out in poop.

You may be able to identify an anteater’s poop by its appearance. Many anteaters will have small pellet-like poop that comes in a scattering of small pellets, and it might even look like piles of brown ants.

Their poop can also look more like dog poop, longer and segmented depending on their diets. Their excrement will typically take on this look if they eat fruit and vegetables as a major part of their diet.

Final Thoughts

giant anteater walking on the ground

Anteaters are strange and majestic creatures whose primary source of food is ants. It’s even in their names! Anteaters love to eat ants and termites above any other type of food.

Since they are native to parts of the world where fire ants are particularly common, anteaters will usually choose fire ants as the primary type of ant they like to eat.

Their long slender tongues are built perfect for picking ants out of their deep anthills, and they can even consume up to 35,000 ants in a single day when they’re starving!

Anteaters are not carnivores, though, so they don’t eat ants only. They are also known to eat plant material and fruit as a significant part of their diets.

As omnivores, their diets are adaptive, though they favor ants and other insects of any different type of food.

RELATED ARTICLE: Do Anteaters Lay Eggs?


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