AskDefine | Define tamandua

Dictionary Definition

tamandua n : small toothless anteater with prehensile tale and four-clawed forelimbs; of tropical South America and Central America [syn: tamandu, lesser anteater, Tamandua tetradactyla]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. An anteater of the genus Tamandua.

Usage notes

  • There seems to be confusion in common terminology concerning the two tamandua species northern and southern tamandua. Depending on source, the terms "lesser anteater" and "collared anteater" are used to refer to either or both of the species. Other languages than English are not necessarily any more logical. The two species also look very similar and the habitats are partly overlapping.

Derived terms


  • Finnish: kierteishäntämuurahaiskarhu
  • Portuguese: tamanduá-mirim

Extensive Definition

for the town in Uruguay see Tamandua, Uruguay
Tamandua is a genus of anteaters. It has two members: the Southern Tamandua (Tamandua tetradactyla) and the Northern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana). They live in forests and grasslands, are semi-arboreal, and possess partially prehensile tails. They mainly eat ants and termites, but they occasionally eat bees. In captivity, they will eat fruits and meat. They have no teeth and depend on their powerful gizzard to break down their food.
The Northern Tamandua ranges from southeastern Mexico south throughout Central America, and in South America west of the Andes from northern Venezuela to northern Peru. Southern Tamanduas are found from Venezuela and Trinidad to northern Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay.
Tamanduas have thick, bristly fur, which is yellowish-white, with a broad black lateral band, covering nearly the whole of the side of the body. Northern Tamandua's have a black V going down their backs, while Southern Tamanduas only have the V in the southeastern part of their range, which is the farthest from the Northern Tamandua's range.
Besides the Tamanduas, there are two other anteaters, the Giant Anteater and the Silky Anteater. Tamanduas are much smaller than the Giant Anteater, which lives on the ground and is found in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, deciduous forests and rainforests. The Giant Anteater eats mostly ants and termites. Tamanduas are larger than the Silky Anteater, which ranges from extreme southern Mexico to Brazil, and possibly Paraguay, and is completely arboreal. It eats mostly ants.
The word tamanduá is Tupi for "anteater", and in Tupi and Portuguese refers to anteaters in general. The tamandua is called in those languages tamanduá-mirim (mirim means "small").
tamandua in German: Tamanduas
tamandua in Spanish: Tamandua
tamandua in French: Tamandua
tamandua in Italian: Tamandua
tamandua in Dutch: Boommiereneters
tamandua in Portuguese: Tamandua
tamandua in Chinese: 小食蚁兽属
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