Well time for a FAQ. I've had tons of people asking mom and me about me lately and once the movie comes out and I'm a real star you know it will be even more. So let's start and we can edit it over time.
What are you?
I am an anteater. I am a tamandua. Tamandua Tetradactyla to be precise. Some will call us the lesser anteaters but we are the PERFECT anteaters. Giant anteaters are to big that's why they are called giants. Pygmy anteaters are too small and that's why they are called pygmies. Tamanduas are in between and just right.
any relation to aardvarks?
No. We are most closely related to sloths and armadillos we share our own order with them and true anteaters have our own family. Others are mere imitations sharing a similar diet.
How do I get one? How did you get one? Where do you get one? Ect.
If you think you want one and the first question you ask is how to get one, You should not have one! There are a million other questions to ask first. It can be hard to find a vet who will treat us much less one that knows anything about us. We could be killed or made sick with the wrong medicines, like some antibiotics. You will need a vet. We are known to those in the know as "delicate keepers" We are demanding. We need lots of attention. Our pee smells skunky. Diet is SO important and you need to do a lot of research to be sure you're doing it right. You thought feeding a dog could be hard with all the different kibbles, canned, home cooked, store bought cooked, store bought raw, home made raw, ect. We'll it's much more involved with us. And so much more you must know FIRST. Why would you want to bring home an animal and have no idea what to feed or how to care for us or how destructive ect we may be and have us die or need rehomed because we peed the carpet and made the place smell and the landlord got pissed and your friends stopped coming over, or whatever? Please do your homework first you will likely change your mind. Mom loves us despite and because of all our quirks but mom is weird.
What do they cost
Tamanduas go from 1500-4,500. Those are the prices mom has seen. You pay more for tame healthy young ones as a general rule. Prices tend to keep going up. Their are not many of us around and getting harder to find with few breeders and then only a baby every couple years with a successful pairing. There are some from the wild like me, Pua, too but you REALLY must know what your are getting into and have solid animal and exotic experience first. It's not easy to deal with a sick tam strait from the wild.
Okay I don't want one but I'm still curious where you came from and WHY your mom has you?
Ha HA do you have a pet, dog, cat, hamster? Why do you have it? You just wanted it right? Well, there you go. When mom was looking at places to move she found a list of things you can have in the state we live now and tamanduas were on it. She saw one on TV once dressed up in a snow suit. So she started learning about us. The more she learned the more she liked and then loved us. She spent years learning about us and has not stopped trying to learn all she can. It was with a lot of determination she got me.
I came from Guyana, South America. It took mom over a year of trying to get me. I was very ill and wouldn't have survived in the wild. Mom wasn't sure I'd survive with her but she nursed me back to health and I'm grateful. I'll even admit here. One time I slipped out on my own and came back an hour later. I love it here.
Stewie was born in FL so he's always lived this easy life. He's even a little scared of outside but likes to doze in an open window and sniff. He left his mom and went to live with a family in Ohio but he couldn't stay due to health issues in the family and he came here instead. He just came here by luck. I'm here by destiny.
What do you eat(besides ants), or how do you get enough ants to feed them
Mom goes out and gets us ants or we find them on walks but they are mostly just treats. If you were paying attention so far you'll have noticed I mentioned the importance of diet before. Mom did a lot of research on that and has recipes from zoos and keepers all over the world. She made us up a mix based on a study of the analysis of stomach contents of our wild kin. We get a soupy mix of all kinds of things and we get a mix of raw ground beef, flax meal and or beans, spinach and cottage cheese for calcium. Throw in a few shrimp or bugs sometimes for variety. We decided we REALLY love beef so mom accommodated us with a diet change. We need the spinach for vitamin K or we are hemophiliacs and flax or beans for fiber. We need some shrimp or organ meats sometimes for taurine. Stewie loves fruit and fruity things but to much sugar is bad for us. We both adore blue cheese.
Are they like a dog or a cat?
UH excuse me? Do I look like I bark or meow? No thank you. But if I must compare I'd say a cat. We are very loving but we will not stay and cuddle just because you ask. We do love to cuddle and snuggle. I sometimes cry if mom's not there when I want her. Stewie is not as clinging and is more likely to stay and snuggle if you ask him right. When is the last time a cat stuck it's tongue up your nose or gave you a french kiss though, hmm? I'm not to fond of toys but Stewie likes them a bit more. I have played with kitty toys and tennis balls and rubber things in the past. Stewie likes stuff more than me. I just like to play and explore and go for long walks and cuddle with mom. We like to play fight and wrestle.
The newspaper lady asked about anything specifically anteater
We have a social ritual of hand and foot poking. Even on the ride home from the airport. Me strait from the wild. I took mom's finger and squeezed it and gave her friendly pokes. I like my hands squeezed too.
What sounds do you make?
We talk through our nose so most of what we say comes out as different sort of hisses you need to learn to interpret. We cry and weep. We hiss in madness, annoyance, confusion, ect. We grunt, whine, and if someone did something really horrible to us we might scream but neither of us here have done that around mom. We also growl. Mom says it sounds like little dinosaur growls. Stewie and I growled at each other at first but we warmed up fast. Stewie was scared because he never knew another anteater but his mom but I wanted to play right away but he growled so I growled back at him and when he got near my food.
Do the hurt you with those long nails? What about the furniture?
I'm proud to say I'm very gentle with mom and always have been and I don't claw the furniture. Stewie is another matter. He learned to be gentle but likes to use his claws on most anything. He's not as bad now but did claw holes in the wall when upset when I was ill and liked to claw the furniture but seems content with the throw rugs and cat condo now. We likes to tear things up when given the chance like coconuts.
Injuries. There have been a few, all human error. Garbing me when I was scared and not letting me know it was her first. Letting me play grab at her head, opps. And two errors with Stewie. We respect flesh long sleeves and other objects are not flesh. We use our nails as fingers and when to long can grab to hard by accident. Mom was waving a rug at Stewie and his claws were over do for a filing and oops again he missed it and got her (ouch). We've never done major damage, just little holes at our worst. Mostly just kitty scratches.
But all in all we are not bad. We've done nothing that can't happen with a domestic dog or cat, when playing to ruff or scared or injured too.
How smart are they
We are very smart. We know how to open the fridge, open the doors, open the window, open drawers, open cabinets, open containers, climb the door frame, respond to my name. I respond to my name and Stewie responds to my name too, ha, he's got a crush on me.
What do they do?
We play wrestle and battle and footsies, we hug and cuddle and kiss and groom. We go for long walks in the woods. We run around the house and just hang out too.
Are you house trained
Are you? Well we wild tams like to use a latrine and so we are good about house habits. We use washable pee pads and though our pee is skunky it's manageable with keeping those picked up and things washed. We do sometimes like to mark out territory and try to get away with peeing in places outside of our room in the rest of the house but not to often.
We do tend to dribble tinny bits of urine sort of like a mouse or rat does but not constantly and more so in a new place or if we are feeling insecure. There doesn't seem to be any real odor issues with this. At least to the human noses of our family.
How are they with other animals?
I've never heard of an aggressive tam. You leave us alone we will leave you alone. We're not fond of the other animals but we just ignore or avoid them. The dogs think our tails are scary. We will all sleep next to each other when in mom's bed.
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