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374px-DirkvdM tamandua

Anteater

The northern tamandua (Tamandua mexicana) is a species of tamandua, a small anteater in the family Myrmecophagidae.

The northern tamandua ranges from southeastern Mexico throughout Central America, and in South America west of the Andes from northern Venezuela to northern Peru. Southern tamanduas are found from Venezuela and Trinidad to northern Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. In Rio 2, a mute anteater named Charlie appears as the tertiary villain and Nigel's henchman.

Description

The northern tamandua is a medium-sized anteater with a prehensile tail, small eyes and ears, and a long snout. The fur is pale yellow over most of the body, with a distinctive patch of black fur over the flanks, back, and shoulders, that somewhat resembles a vest in shape. The presence of this coloration pattern makes it possible to distinguish these species from its southern relative, which has a more uniform color. The tail has fur on its upper surface for about a third of its length, but is otherwise hairless. The hind feet have five toes, while the fore feet have only four.

Unlike the giant anteater, the northern tamandua is also adapted to an arboreal lifestyle. The muscles of the toes and the presence of a tough pad on the palms makes the forefeet prehensile, enabling them to grip onto projections as it climbs. The middle toe of the forefeet also bears an unusually large claw, and the toe has enough muscle and leverage to allow it to rip open wood to get at the ants within.

800px-Tamandúa

Northern tamandua in Corcovado National Park.

Behaviour

Northern tamanduas are mainly nocturnal, but are also often active during the day, and spend only around 40% of their time in the trees. They are active for about eight hours each day, spending the rest of the time sheltering in hollow trees. They are solitary animals, occupying home ranges of between 25 and 70 ha (62 and 170 ac). Known predators include jaguars, moutain lions, and harpy eagles.

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