ANT'-EAT'ER. Any of various ant-eating mammals, especially those of the South Ameri can Edentate family Myrmecoithagithe. The head in this family is remarkably elongated, with a slender, tubular muzzle, and a small, toothless mouth, with a long, vermiform, protrusile tongue. The eyes and ears are very small. The legs are massive, and the toes united as far as the base of the claws, which are very large and strong, and are turned under the fore-feet as the animal walks. The Great ant-eater, tamanoir. or ant bear (11yrniceoph«ga jabata), a native of the tropical forests of South America. is about 2 feet high and 4 feet long without the tail. which is feet long. The compressed body is covered with long hair.' gray. strikingly marked by a black breast-band, which narrows back to the top of the shoulders. while the fo•e-legs and feet. are white. The hair is especially long upon the hack and tail, which can he curled over the back. and is said to he held there as a shield rain. The animal dwells in the dense forest, but is wholly terrestrial and does not bur row. It is timid, slow. and inoffensive, hut at bay is able to defend itself effectively by means of its long fore-claws, with which it hugs and tears its enemy. These powerful claws are of service in tearing down the hills of the termites and ants, upon which it principally subsists.
These are taken by means of the long tongue, which is covered with a sticky secretion from great salivary glands; this tongue is thrust among the disturbed ants or laid in their path, and. when a number have adhered to it, is drawn into the mouth.
Only one young one is said to be produced annu ally, so that the creature is nowhere numerous; nor is this to be regretted, for it has few, if any, qualities to recommend it to man's attention. Another species, the tamandua tctra ductyla), is much smaller, has a shorter head and short, bristly hair, and a slender, prehensile tail; its body is black, while the head, neck, fore-limbs, and hind-quarters are yellowish-white —a strange dress, varying a good deal among indiv4duals. It also dwells in the equatorial for est of America, but is wholly arboreal, seeking its insect food and making its home in trees. A third species, the little, or two-toed, ant-eater (('yclotnens didactylus), is not larger than a rat, is clothed in silky fur, and dwells altogether in trees, for which its long, prehensile tail and curious feet have become especially modified; an other species inhabits Costa Rica. For portraits of the three species mentioned above, see plate of