The Cyclopes didactylus can be found in forests from Southern Mexico to Bolivia. It can also be found in Brazil.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 266 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 0.636 W.
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. The silky anteater is arboreal and very rarely descends to the ground.
Habitat and Ecology
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 (Best). 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.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 2.3 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Average gestation period: 135 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cyclopes didactylus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2013Least Concern
- 2006Least Concern(IUCN 2006)
- 2006Least Concern
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
The silky anteater, or pygmy anteater, (Cyclopes didactylus) is a species of anteaters from Central and South America, the only living species in the genus Cyclopes and the family Cyclopedidae. A single extinct cyclopedid genus, Palaeomyrmidon, known from the Miocene of Argentina, may be ancestral to the living species.
Silky anteaters are the smallest living anteaters, and have proportionately shorter faces and larger crania than other species. Adults have a total length ranging from 360 to 450 mm (14 to 18 in), including a tail 17 to 24 cm (6.7 to 9.4 in) long, and weigh from 175 to 400 g (6.2 to 14.1 oz). They have dense and soft fur, which ranges from grey to yellowish in colour, with 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 fore feet, 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 hind feet 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 partially prehensile tails.
Distribution and habitat
Silky anteaters are found from Oaxaca and southern Veracruz in Mexico, through Central America (except El Salvador), and south to Ecuador, and northern Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. A smaller, isolated population is also found in the northern Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil, and there are also silky anteaters on the island of Trinidad. They inhabit a range of different forest types, including semideciduous, tropical evergreen, and mangrove forests, from sea level to 1,500 m (4,900 ft).
- C. d. didactylus Linnaeus, 1758 - the Guyanas, eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Atlantic Forest
- C. d. catellus Thomas, 1928 - northern Bolivia, southeastern Peru, western Brazil
- C. d. dorsalis Gray, 1865 - extreme southern Mexico, Central America, northern Colombia
- C. d. eva Thomas, 1902 - western Ecuador, southwestern Colombia
- C. d. ida, Thomas, 1900 - western Brazil, eastern Ecuador and Peru
- C. d. melini Lönnberg, 1928 - northern Brazil, eastern Colombia
- C. d. mexicanus Hollister, 1914 - southern Mexico
Silky anteaters are nocturnal and arboreal, found in lowland rainforests with continuous canopy, where they can move to different places without the need to descend from trees. They can occur at fairly high densities of 0.77 individuals/ha, for example, in some areas. Females have smaller home ranges than males.
The silky anteater is a slow-moving animal and feeds mainly on ants, eating between 700 and 5,000 a day. Sometimes, it also feeds on other insects, such as termites and small coccinellid beetles. The silky anteater defecates once a day. Some of those feces contain a large quantity of exoskeleton fragments of insects, indicating the silky anteater does not possess either chitinase or chitobiase, digestive enzymes found in insectivorous bats.
It is a solitary animal and gives birth to a single young, up to twice a year. The young are born already furred, and with a similar colour pattern to the adults. They begin to take solid food when they are about one-third of the adult mass. The young is usually placed inside a nest of dead leaves built in tree holes, and left for about eight hours each night.
Some authors suggest the silky anteater usually dwells in silk cotton trees (genus Ceiba). Because of its resemblance to the seed pod fibers of these trees, it can use the trees as camouflage and avoid attacks of predators such as hawks and, especially, harpy eagles. During the day, they typically sleep curled up in a ball. Although they are rarely seen in the forest, they can be found more easily when they are foraging on lianas at night.
When threatened, the silky anteater, like other anteaters, defends itself by standing on its hind legs and holding its fore feet close to its face so it can strike any animal that tries to get close with its sharp claws.
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- Miranda, F., Meritt, D.A., Tirira, D.G. & Arteaga, M. (2014). "Cyclopes didactylus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2014-07-07.
- Linnæus, Carl (1758). Systema naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I (in Latin) (10 ed.). Holmiæ: Laurentius Salvius. p. 35. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
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- Bartoz, Suzy1; Cerda, Anthony (2009). "Silky Anteater". Benedictine University. Retrieved 16 Aug 2009.[dead link]
- Miranda, F., et al. (2009). "Food habits of wild silky anteaters (Cyclopes didactylus) of São Luis do Maranhão, Brazil". Edentata 8–10: 1–5. doi:10.1896/020.010.0109.
- "Silky Anteater". WildMagazine. Retrieved February 2012.
- Sunquist, M.E. & Montgomery, G.G. (1973). "Activity pattern of a translocated silky anteater (Cyclopes didactylus)". Journal of Mammalogy 54 (3): 782. doi:10.2307/1378984.
- Louise H. Emmons and Francois Feer, 1997 - Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, A Field Guide.
- Eisenberg, J.F. and Redford, K.H. 1999. "Mammals of the Neotropics, Volume 3: The Central Neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil". University of Chicago Press.
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