Tamandua

The tamandua, a species of tropical anteater, uses a prehensile tail to anchor itself in the lofty treetops. A tamandua spends most of its time high above the forest floor, searching for ants and termites in the leafy canopy. After detecting its prey by scent, the tamandua will slash at the ant or termite nest with its long, sharp claws to expose the tiny insects. 


photo M. Noonan


The tamandua then extends its 16 inch-long tongue out from its tiny mouth, which is only the diameter of a pencil, and into the nest.  This tongue is coated in a sticky mucus that ensnares the insects, allowing the tamandua to draw them back into its mouth.  The tamandua may thrash its long tongue up to 150 times per minute in the nest to whip the prey rapidly into its awaiting mouth.  All in all, a single tamandua may eat upwards of 9000 insects each and every day in this fashion.
 

CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.