Reproductive biology

Visual sex determination of anteaters is sometimes possible. Adult males tend to be slightly larger overall and have a wider

Male anteaters have internal testes, making it difficult to tell the difference between males and females without closer examination. (Illustration by Jarrod Erdody)

head and neck as well as a more muscular build. The penis and testes are located internally in the abdominal cavity between the rectum and urinary bladder. As a result, the only sure way to determine the sex of an anteater visually is to observe the shape and size differences of the urogenital opening. In males, the opening is more ventral and greatly reduced. Thus, the distance from the anus to the urogenital opening is greater in males. Females have a shorter ano-genital distance, the urogenital opening is long and has a mound-like shape. This can sometimes be seen at a distance with the larger species when the tail is raised, otherwise the animal must be captured for close identification. There is no intromission during breeding, fertilization occurs as a result of contact transfer similar to that observed in some species of lizards. Usually only a single offspring is produced from polygynous mating, twins are possible but very rare. Females have a single pair of mammae near the armpits from which the offspring nurse. Mothers are unable to grasp the newborn offspring due to the enlarged foreclaws; therefore, newborn youngsters must climb up the long extended fur to the mammae. In most species, the young are transported on the mothers back until they are self-sufficient.

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