Southern Tamandua or Collared anteater

(Tamandua tetradactyla)


Southern Tamandua or Collared anteater IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The tamandua is a little smaller than its closest relative, the Giant Anteater. It reaches approximately 1 to 1.5 m in total length. The basic colouration is a light yellow or sandy colour. A black vest is encircling the body behind the shoulders in the south-eastern populations of the species (hence the common name “Collared Anteater”); other populations are uniformly coloured. As the scientific species name indicates there are four clawed digits on the hand. The snout is elongated with a very small mouth opening. There are no teeth at all. The tamandua is primarily an arboreal species which sometimes also moves on the ground for foraging. The prehensile tail is helpful in climbing; therefore the underside of the tail is nearly naked. The tamandua is active by day and by night (pending on the individual). Longevity record is given as 16 yrs. A very similar species is the Northern tamandua (Tamandua Mexicana). Both tamandua species are also known as lesser anteaters referring to their close phylogenetic relationship to the giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla).

Did you know?
that the tamandua fights its enemies standing upright in a tripod position with the tail as a “third foot” (similar to defense strategies in the arboreal tree kangaroos), and that further it is capable of emitting a very unpleasant odour from its anal glands which also helps in repelling intruders? In contrast to the giant anteater the tamanduas are primarily feeding on termites (particularly tree-living termites) and use their claws not only in defending themselves but also to open the nests of the insects.


Name (Scientific) Tamandua tetradactyla
Name (English) Southern Tamandua or Collared anteater
Name (French) Tamandua du Sud ou Fourmilier à collier
Name (German) Südlicher Tamandua
Name (Spanish) Oso meliero, Tamandú, Tamandúa, Oso hormiguero, Oso colmener
Local names Brazil: Tamanduá mirim
Other local language: Caguaré
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Gerald Dick



Range South America: east of the Andes, from Venezuela and Brazil to northern Argentina and the South of Brazil; also on Trinidad
Habitat Tropical rainforest, dry forest, savanna and thorn scrub, most common near streams and rivers.
Wild population Unknown, but abundant (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 71 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Southern Tamandua or Collared anteater


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 75 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Monalyssa Camandaroba

Why do zoos keep this animal

Although the tamanduas both are currently not listed as being in concrete danger they already suffer from loss of environment. Very often they fall victim to their habit of intruding into human settlements where they are regarded as noisy and unwelcome visitors. Further, they are hunted for the pelts or for the pet trade as they are considered as good pets (which is definitely not the case; partially due to their sometimes very aggressive nature against their keepers).


Thus, the tamandua is primarily kept as an ambassador species because is a good example of an animal whose future is strongly depending on the attitude of humans towards its natural environment, and for educational reasons as a good example for a unique life form. It thus contributes to a better understanding of the very particular and endemic fauna of South America.