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Silky (Pygmy) Anteater - Cyclopes didactylus
Topic Started: Nov 10 2012, 01:42 PM (4,437 Views)
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Silky (Pygmy) Anteater - Cyclopes didactylus

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Superorder: Xenarthra
Order: Pilosa
Suborder: Vermilingua
Family: Cyclopedidae
Genus: Cyclopes
Species: Cyclopes didactylus

Silky anteaters are the smallest living anteaters, and also have a proportionately shorter face and larger cranium than other species. Adults have a total length ranging from 360 to 450 millimetres, including a tail 17 to 24 centimetres long, and weigh anything from 175 to 400 grams. They have dense and soft fur, which ranges from grey to yellowish in colour, and has a silvery sheen. Many subspecies have darker, often brownish, streaks, and paler underparts or limbs. The eyes are black, and the soles of the feet are red.
The scientific name translates roughly as "two-toed circle-foot", and refers to the presence of two claws on the forefeet, and their ability to almost encircle a branch to which the animal is clinging. The claws are present on the second and third toes, with the latter being much the larger. The fourth toe is very small, and lacks a claw, while the other two toes are vestigial or absent, and are not visible externally. The hindfeet have four toes of equal length, each with long claws, and a vestigial hallux that is not externally visible. The ribs are broad and flat, overlapping to form an internal armoured casing that protects the chest.
They have a partially prehensile tail.

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There are seven recognized subspecies:
Cyclopes didactylus didactylus, (Linnaeus, 1758) - the Guyanas, eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Atlantic Forest.
Cyclopes didactylus catellus, (Thomas, 1928) - northern Bolivia, southeastern Peru, western Brazil.
Cyclopes didactylus dorsalis, (Gray, 1865) - extreme southern Mexico, Central America, northern Colombia.
Cyclopes didactylus eva, (Thomas, 1902) - western Ecuador, southwestern Colombia.
Cyclopes didactylus ida, (Thomas, 1900) - western Brazil, eastern Ecuador and Peru.
Cyclopes didactylus melini, (Lönnberg, 1928) - northern Brazil, eastern Colombia.
Cyclopes didactylus mexicanus, (Hollister, 1914) - southern Mexico.

The silky anteater is nocturnal and almost never descends to the ground. It is very slow-moving and is not typically an offensive animal. In defense, however, the silky anteater stands on its hind legs and grasps tree limbs with its hind feet and prehensile tail. It then hold its forefeet close to its face and strikes very quickly with its large claws. Because they are so difficult to find in the wild, little is known about the social systems of the silky anteater.

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Gestation of the silky anteater is between 120 and 150 days. It gives birth to a single young that the mother will place in a nest of dry leaves in a hole in a tree trunk. The young is raised by both parents, and the male sometimes carries the young on his back. Both parents feed the young by regurgitating semi-digested insects for it to eat.
Average lifespan in captivity, about 2 years.

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The silky anteater is strictly insectivorous. It feeds mostly on arboreal ants and termites (white ants), but has been known to occasionally eat coccinellid beetles. The anteater will eat on average 100 to 8000 ants per day. Cyclopes didactylus is an oppurtunistic feeder that forages among the treetops and invades ants nests with its long sticky tongue.

Distribution and habitat
The Cyclopes didactylus can be found in forests from Southern Mexico to Bolivia. It can also be found in Brazil.
Cyclopes didactylus inhabits the tree Ceiba, which has large seed pods that contain masses of a silky silverish fiber. This serves as an excellent camouflage for this tiny anteater, because the sheen of the pods and the silky fur of the anteater are almost identical. The silky anteater needs this protection becasue its predators include the harpy-eagle, eagle-hawks and the spectacled owl, all of which have excellent vision.

Edited by linnaeus1758, Jun 13 2014, 04:02 PM.
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