The Silky Anteater – Sleeping Safely out here!

Silky Anteater
By Quinten Questel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

The silky anteater, or pygmy anteater, (Cyclopes didactylus) is the only  living species in the genus Cyclopes and the family Cyclopedidae. It is the tiniest of ant-eaters, fitting easily in the palm of your hand and weighing less than a pound. It spends almost all it’s short two-year life span in the trees. This lil’ one is found in Central and South America. 

Source: Strange Animals Info

It has beautiful silky fur and is said to live among silk cotton trees where it curls up during the day, coming out an night to munch on 700 -5000 ants, termites and beetles. You could say that the silky anteater is the gardener on night-duty, pruning the insect population that would otherwise cause real harm to trees.

Why are they so special as to be a different family altogether?

Well, it’s all in the chromosomes this time. The oldest fossil records of the family date back to the Eocene (55-34 million years ago). A remarkable difference exists between the silky anteater and the other species of the Giant Anteater family (Myrmecophagidae)  in the appearance of the chromosomes (number, arrangement, size and structure). The silky anteater has the largest number of chromosomes.

So, the difference is not that palpable in anything but the sizes of the animals. A layperson like you and I would really not note too many differences.

 

 

 

 
They live solitary lives mostly in the foliage sleeping during the day and dodging the Harpy Eagle, their most consistent predator. A female silky anteater gives birth to a single young that is usually placed inside a nest of dead leaves built in tree holes.

They are not threatened in their habitat, partly because it is so inaccessible to humans. Sometimes, it is good to hide deep in dense forest and come out only at night. May they sleep soundly for long!

About mammal 61 Articles
I blog about mammals and all the interesting and fun-filled facts about them will be welcome additions to this blog.

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