Where Do Anteaters Live In The World?

Anteaters are known for their long snouts, wormlike tongues, and insect-heavy diets. But perhaps you’d like to know more about these unique creatures. Specifically, you’re wondering, “where do anteaters live in the world?” Keep reading as we answer this question and more.

Where Do Anteaters Live in the World?

Where Do Anteaters Live in the U.S.?

There are four species of anteater in the world: the giant anteater, the silky anteater, and two tamandua species. All of these anteaters are native to the New World and originated in South America.

Most anteaters are still found in South America, though their range also spread into North America millions of years ago after the Isthmus of Panama was formed.

Anteaters used to be found in the wild as far north as Sonora, Mexico. However, their range has diminished somewhat, and its northern borders now extend only into southern Mexico.

Anteaters can be found as far south as northern parts of Argentina. In addition to mainland North and South America, anteaters are also found on some of the Caribbean Islands.

Depending on the species, anteaters live in the following countries:

  • Bolivia
  • Costa Rica
  • Honduras
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Columbia
  • Nicaragua
  • Venezuela
  • Paraguay
  • Mexico
  • Peru

The southern tamandua is primarily found south and east of the Andes Mountains, while the northern tamandua lives mainly in and northwest of the Andes. However, their range sometimes overlaps.

Meanwhile, the giant anteater is found throughout much of Central and South America, though it has been locally extirpated from parts of its range. The silky anteater, the smallest of the species, is found from southern parts of Mexico to Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Bolivia in South America.

Where Do Anteaters Live in the U.S.?

Anteaters are not found natively in the United States, as it lies far north of their range. However, anteaters are sometimes kept in captivity in the U.S.

For example, anteaters are a common sight at most zoos throughout the country. 

They have also been captured and trained to perform in circuses and local fairs, but such practices are now rare and have become illegal in many states.

Finally, some people in the U.S. keep anteaters as pets. Anteaters make good pets because they are generally mild-mannered animals and have relatively long lives; one captive anteater lived to the age of 25.

While it is federally legal to keep an anteater as a pet, state and local laws may or may not allow it. If you’re considering keeping an anteater as a pet, it’s a good idea to check with the laws and ordinances governing your area first.

What Type of Environment Do Anteaters Live In?

Anteaters are found primarily in tropical habitats. However, they can adapt easily to different environments within their range.

Some anteaters live in rainforests, while others live in drier tropical forests or savannas. Still others live in open grasslands or near large bodies of water.

Anteaters living in and near the Andes have adapted to more mountainous climates, meaning they can tolerate higher altitudes and colder temperatures. Generally speaking, though, anteaters prefer warmer environments.

It’s worth noting that the type of environment an anteater prefers may depend on its species.

The giant anteater, for example, spends most of its time on the ground and lives in grasslands and savannas. Giant anteaters are also good swimmers but don’t spend a lot of time climbing trees.

On the other hand, tamandua and silky anteaters prefer arboreal environments, spending most of their time in trees. Silky anteaters prefer the hottest climates and live exclusively in trees, while tamanduas also make their way to the ground from time to time.

To learn more about the different kinds of anteaters, check out this video:

What Animals Look Like Anteaters?

There are many animals in the world that look similar to anteaters, and some of them live in the same parts of the world as anteaters. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these animals.


Aardvarks are native to Africa and frequently confused with anteaters. This may be due to their similar body shape, long snout, and similar diet.

Aardvarks are medium-sized land mammals that walk on all fours and have curved backs much like anteaters. Also like anteaters, ants and termites make up much of their diet.

However, aardvarks are known for creating burrows, while anteaters are not. What’s more, aardvarks’ snouts are wider and flattened on the end, looking more similar to a pig’s snout than an anteater’s.


Tapirs are large land mammals found throughout much of Central and South America. They live primarily in forests and jungles, so they share similar ranges and habitats with anteaters.

The main characteristic tapirs share with anteaters is their long snout. However, a tapir’s snout isn’t nearly as long or narrow as an anteater’s.

What’s more, tapirs are generally larger and heavier than even the largest anteaters, and their stubby tails are in stark contrast to the long and sometimes bushy tails that anteaters exhibit. 


Armadillos are found throughout much of North, Central, and South America. They are in the same family as anteaters and share much of their native range.

These animals, especially the big hairy armadillo, share many similarities with anteaters. These include their triangular head and long snout, hair-covered bodies, and tendency to eat ants and termites.

That said, armadillos can be identified by their tough plate-armor hide, stubby legs, and their digging and burrowing tendencies.


Pangolins are mammals native to Africa and Asia. These adorable and unique-looking creatures are sometimes called scaly anteaters.

Pangolins do share similarities with anteaters in terms of their body shape, long snout and tongue, and preference for eating ants and termites.

However, pangolins are not related to anteaters and don’t live in the same regions; what’s more, they are covered in hard keratin scales instead of fur, and they are known for digging and burrowing.


Anteaters live primarily in Central and South America, with their range extending from southern Mexico to Northern Argentina. They live primarily in warm, tropical habitats. They are often confused with other animals living both inside and outside of their range, especially aardvarks, armadillos, pangolins, and tapirs.

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