Northern tamanduas are specialized to eat termites and ants. Since they are mostly arboreal, northern tamanduas eat mostly ants and termites that nest in the trees. They detect their prey by scent. They have developed an aversion to leaf-eating ants, army ants, and other ants that produce chemical defenses. They also can tell the difference between different castes in the termite society. They will not eat soldiers of certain noxious termites, but will search out the defenseless workers of the same species and eat them. Northern tamanduas have also been seen eating bees and their honey. In captivity they will eat fruit and meats.
Tamandua mexicana individuals on Barro Colorado Island were estimated to eat more than 9,000 ants per day.
Since they lack teeth, their stomach is portioned to include a muscular gizzard, much like that of some birds. Their tongue is coated with a sticky saliva and backward facing projections that ensnare the ants and termites.
When they eat, they noisily rip and tear insect nests and rotten wood apart. At night, sounds of tearing wood will often lead to a northern tamandua.
Animal Foods: insects
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )