Cyclopes didactylussilky anteater

Geographic Range

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. The silky anteater is arboreal and very rarely descends to the ground.

Physical Description

  • Average mass
    266 g
    9.37 oz
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.636 W


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 number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    135 days



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.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

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.

Conservation Status

Other Comments

Cyclopes didactylus has 64 chromosomes, in contrast to other members of the family Myrmecophagidae.


Megan Schober (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


Best, R. 1985. Journal of Mammalogy 66(4):780-781

McCarthy, T. 1982. Mammalia 46(3):397-400

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World; 5th ed, vol.1. Johns Hopkins University Press