The Southern Tamandua, or lesser anteater, is found in South America in Brazil and its surrounding countries. They inhabit the thick forests where they can find their food, which is mostly ants and termites. They are an arboreal animal, with a thick prehensile tail to aid in climbing. With quite the sense of smell, this species locates prey off of scent alone. They are also equipped with extremely strong foreclaws which can be used to break open wood and nests, in addition to being a very strong defense tool. They do not have teeth, but instead have a tongue that can reach up to 16 inches in length. Additionally, their saliva is quite sticky, so together it allows the Tamandua to secure its meals.
Conservation for the Southern Tamandua is in a tricky spot right now. They are a widespread species, taking up much of the South American continent, but they are becoming less and less common. They are unfortunately hunted down for their strong tails, which are used for cordage, in addition to being killed by locals who falsely believe that they attack dogs. As of right now they are listed as least concern by the IUCN, which was last updated in 2013. There is no official trend identified in population and that is because we need further research to identify it.
We received a rescued Tamandua named Molly in 2016 who died suddenly without any clear reason. She left quite the impression and ever since we’ve wanted to start a conservation program with them. In November of 2020, our dream finally came true when we were lucky enough to get a male and female pair to begin our program.
Their names are Taco and Belle and they came from a breeder in Venezuela. Hopefully we can get educate the public and get their offspring out to enough zoos that people will care enough to do the research to save this species.
Pictured Above: Taco (male), Belle (female)