Comparison of Estimated Wild Giant Anteater (Myrmecopahaga tridactyla Linnaeus, 1758) Diets with Commercial Diets for Insectivores: Implications for Anteater Health

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Heidi Bissell, Mario H. Alves, Débora R. Yogui, Margarita Woc Colburn, Arnaud L. J. Desbiez
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Using the stomach contents of 24 wild road-killed giant anteaters as proxies for their diet, we found that estimated wild diets were much lower in calcium (about ten times less) and phosphorus compared with manufactured feeds commonly fed to anteaters under human care. Indicators of soil consumption, such as ash, iron, and manganese were higher in the stomach contents than in either wild termites or manufactured diets, likely due to high levels of soil ingestion during feeding in the wild. Protein and fat levels in insects, stomach contents, and commercial diets all met carnivore recommendations. Both giant anteaters and tamanduas in managed care often develop hypercalcemia, perhaps because these taxa have an enhanced ability to retain calcium allowing them to survive on such low calcium diets. Results from this study indicate that, for anteaters in managed care, it is important to keep dietary calcium and vitamins D and K within recommended levels to prevent nutritional diseases such as hyper- and hypocalcemia and vitamin K deficiency.


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