Monday, September 26, 2005

Animal of the Week September 26, 2005 -- An anteater

Hello Ani-pals!
The exact number of insects one swallows in a lifetime is a common matter of debate (sorry vegans). Some, no doubt less than well-informed, web sources put the figure at 14 in your sleep in your lifetime, others reckon on that figure being about ten a year; this doesn't factor in the number of small flies one always seemed to be choking on when learning to ride a bike or taking part in sports days as a child. Whatever the case, it's probably fewer than the number swallowed by this week's Animal -- Myrmecophaga tridactyla (giant anteater) -- which can swallow up to 30 000 insects in a day! With hooters the envy of supermodels the world over, anteaters have a range of other talents, not least the ability to flick their tongues in and out of their mouths around 150 times a minute -- although should that fact give anyone ideas, you should be aware that the 61 cm long muscle is covered in little spines. Longer-term recipients of AOTW will recall this supposed battle between a hybrid cat and a giant anteater (; although the provenance of this is, IMHO, doubtful, pumas and jaguars tackle anteaters with caution for fear of their mighty claws. Able swimmers and climbers, giant anteaters have few natural enemies, but they do frequently fall victim to collisions with cars. So next time you're on a road trip through the pampas, drive safely gringo. As you know, I like all the animals, but I do find these chaps particularly handsome. The hunagrian for anteater is hangyász; egyptian hieroglyphics here:

Here is a poem about anteaters written by someone called Shel Silverstein:

"A genuine anteater,"

The pet man told me dad.

Turned out, it was an aunt eater,

And now my uncle's mad!


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