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Does an Anteater Have Any Teeth?

The anteater does not have any teeth. It does not require teeth to eat due to its large tongue that can extend over 2 feet (60 cm) away to gather insects to swallow whole. An anteater uses its snout and tongue to capture ants and termites, which are then swallowed quickly. Speed is required for anteaters to consume their prey because ants may begin to sting the inside of their mouths in an attempt to fight back. To enable quick gathering and swallowing, the anteater’s tongue may flick up to 160 times every minute. In the course of an average day, an anteater may eat 35,000 insects.

More about anteaters:

  • Anteaters vary widely in size—smaller species are around 7 inches (18 cm) while the largest anteaters may reach 7 feet (2.1 meters).

  • The large snout of the anteater gives the animal a sense of smell that is approximately 40 times more powerful than humans.

  • Anteaters have long claws, reaching around 4 inches (10 cm) that allows them to fight off large predators, such as jaguars and pumas.

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Discuss this Article

Krunchyman
Post 2

I have known about anteaters for quite a long time. However, what intrigues me the most about them is they're able to fend off predators, which is something I just learned. I thought that for the most part, anteaters stay secluded. However, many animals that seem to be on the higher ranks of the food chain are actually prone to many predators. Overall, the claws of an anteater are its greatest weapon.

Chmander
Post 1

The fact that anteaters don't even need teeth really shows how different they are from humans, and the same can be said for most animals. Humans certainly need teeth to eat and survive, no matter who we are. However, an animal can use their mouth (teeth or no teeth) to adapt to their surroundings.

For example, some animals who are primarily meat eaters, have razor sharp rows of teeth, such as sharks for example. They were made this way so that they could tear away the flesh of their latest victim. However, the reason why anteaters don't have teeth, as the article explains it, is because ants are so small.

Due to their miniature size, all they need to do is be sucked right up, and little to no chewing is necessary. On a final note, I'm not surprised that anteaters have to swallow their prey quickly. Depending on the ant, they can be very aggressive, and will do everything in their power to fight back.

This also leads me to the question of what type of ants anteaters eat. I mean, if some ants are provoked, such as the fire ant, can't they come out of their nest and bite the anteater, thereby creating pheromones? It's definitely something to think about.

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