Many people throughout the world keep exotic animals as pets. Perhaps you’re considering this as well. As you consider different animals, you may be wondering: what about anteaters? Can you own an anteater as a pet? Do they make good pets? How do you care for them? Keep reading as we answer each of these questions and more.
What You'll Learn Today
Is it Legal to Own an Anteater as a Pet?
In general, it is legal to own an anteater. But that may depend on where you live, as local and state laws can vary.
There are no federal regulations governing the ownership of anteaters. But state and local laws and ordinances may ban you from owning them, or at least require you to have a permit.
Always double-check the laws in your area before deciding to purchase an anteater as a pet.
Do Anteaters Make Good Pets?
Tame anteaters are adorable creatures, as you can see in the video below:
That said, owning an anteater as a pet is not for everyone. It requires a huge time commitment, specific living conditions, and a sizable financial investment.
For starters, purchasing an anteater can cost you thousands of dollars. It’s best to choose a young anteater with tame parents that has been hand-raised from birth by a knowledgeable handler.
Anteaters need plenty of space to move around and trees, poles, or other structures to climb on. They must be kept at an ambient temperature between 65 and 85, as colder or hotter temperatures could make them sick.
Anteaters tend to excrete a foul-smelling substance (similar to that of skunks) when they are frightened, and they like to mark their territory by spraying smelly urine all over their bedding and the surrounding areas. They are not easy to potty train.
They also have a tendency to tear up furniture and other objects with their sharp claws. This is an instinctive behavior, as they are used to tearing apart termite mounds in search of food in the wild.
If you plan to keep an anteater as a pet, you’ll want to make sure they have a large area all to themselves where they cannot damage furniture and where the smell will not be a problem. This enclosure must be kept at the appropriate temperatures at all times.
Anteaters are solitary animals, so they might not be a good choice for you if you have other pets. Because of the time commitment, they also aren’t a great option for those with busy work schedules or who are raising young children.
Tame anteaters can be very snuggly and loveable, which can make the cost and hassle of caring for them worth it for some pet owners. But it’s important you have a good understanding of what you are getting into before deciding to bring an anteater home.
How to Care for a Pet Anteater
So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons in your mind and have decided to go ahead and adopt a pet anteater. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to provide the proper care.
Choose a large room or enclosed area of your house, if possible. Remove furniture and other items you don’t want to be damaged by your new pet.
If you live in a warm, humid climate, you could set up an outdoor enclosure for your anteater instead. However, keep in mind that you will need to bring your pet inside if it gets too hot or cold.
Set up climbing poles, tree branches, and other obstacles within the enclosure. Anteaters are arboreal animals, meaning they spend much of their time climbing and hanging out in trees.
Using poles or branches of varying sizes and thicknesses will help keep their feet healthy.
Place a pet bed in the enclosure, or include a box filled with soft wood shavings. Your anteater may prefer to sleep up high, so maybe include some elevated platforms or boxes for them.
Remember to keep the ambient temperature of the enclosure between 65 and 85 degrees. Anteaters live in tropical regions, so keeping humidity levels elevated will keep their skin from drying out and help guard against health issues.
Anteaters eat up to 30,000 ants and termites in a day. While it isn’t likely you’ll be able to procure such a large number of bugs for your pet, there are other feeding options you can try.
Zoos typically provide an insectivore powder for their anteaters. They mix this powder with water, insects, fruit, and honey to create a sort of “anteater smoothie.”
You may be able to find an insectivore powder online or at an exotic pet feed store. You can also supplement your anteater’s diet with raw, ground meat, dog or cat food, baby food, and fresh fruits and veggies such as lettuce, corn, avocado, and blueberries.
Keep in mind that anteaters don’t have teeth. Whatever you feed them will need to be soft enough for them to slurp up and swallow whole; blending their food makes it easiest for them to eat.
Anteaters are prone to developing respiratory infections, especially if they are kept in cold or drafty conditions. On the other hand, they can suffer from heatstroke if they are left out in hot weather.
They can develop dry skin or cracked and bleeding foot pads if their environment is too dry. They may also experience organ failure if their diet doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients for them to survive.
Because of these various health risks, it’s important to find a good exotic veterinarian who is willing and able to care for your anteater. These types of veterinarians may be hard to find, but keep looking until you find one; a good vet is essential for maintaining your anteater’s health.
To find an exotic animal vet, start by looking in urban areas near larger cities; they are more likely to be found in the city than in more sparsely-populated rural areas. You can also inquire at veterinary colleges.
How Long Do Anteaters Live in Captivity?
Anteaters that are well cared for and don’t develop health issues can live a surprisingly long time.
The anteaters most commonly kept as pets are tamanduas, also known as lesser anteaters. These generally live around seven years, though they can easily live into their teens.
The anteater with the longest-known lifespan was one kept in captivity. It lived for an incredible 25 years.
Anteaters can be challenging to keep as pets; they require a lot of care and a huge investment of time and money. That said, they can be tamed, and it is legal to own them as pets in many areas.