For some people having a dog, a cat, or another common household pet just isn’t enough.
They want the excitement and the challenge of raising an exotic pet, loving animals that most people wouldn’t even want NEAR their house.
Although having an exotic animal as a pet may seem eccentric, some of these animals can be excellent pets and great friends, whose only ‘issue’ is that they require special treatment.
Among the exotic pets that make great companions, there’s the Anteater, a favorite pet of the artist Salvador Dali, and a cute tropical animal that is commonly known for its long snout and its HUGE appetite for ants.
In this article you’ll find out why can anteaters become great pets, the cost of owning one, the required maintenance, and how they’ve become the amazing friends for many pet owners.
Is it Legal to Have a Pet Anteater?
Let’s start this guide with two essential questions that most people ask: aren’t they endangered species? How is it possible to have one as a pet?
Anteater is the common name of four different kinds of animals, the giant anteater, the silky anteater, the southern tamandua, and the northern tamandua. Out of these four kinds, only the giant anteater is considered a vulnerable species and there are strict regulations about keeping them as pets.
The southern and northern tamandua and the silky anteater are the most common pets, and having them is mostly unregulated or require that you get an exotic animal license or permit from the local authorities.
Of course, this all depends on where you live. So check with your local humane society.
Are Anteaters Similar to Other Pets?
Anteaters are wild animals, and many people believe they’ll behave as such. However, most owners and zookeepers report that anteaters kept in captivity have personalities and behave similar to cats!
They love their owners and love snuggle sessions, but they also like to keep their distance for extended periods of time.
They are mostly nocturnal animals and love sleeping like their sloth cousins, but during their waking hours they are very active and require a lot of exercise.
How Do I Get One, And What Do They Cost?
These animals can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $8,000 USD depending on the subspecies, age, and whether they were born in captivity or the wild. However, getting one is not straightforward, don’t expect walking into your local pet shop to find several anteaters for up for adoption.
Although you can find them in a few wild and exotic animals stores in the US, it can be challenging to get them in other countries due to the lack of demand. Moreover, getting them directly from South America might prove tricky with authorities unless you have all the legal paperwork and the authorizations to take them back to your home country.
How Hard is it to Keep an Anteater?
Anteaters are delicate creatures that require a dedicated owner to be healthy and happy!
Here’s an overview of an anteater’s daily routine to give you an idea of what is like to have one as a pet:
They require plenty of exercise and interaction with their owners or other animals, and it is essential to walk them daily to stay healthy.
Diet is the hardest part of keeping an anteater as a pet. Unlike the name suggests, their diet is not exclusively ants! If you want to keep them healthy you’ll have to make some effort to come up with particular blends of vegetables, raw beef, and other supplements.
Diet mistakes can cause severe health issues so make sure to do comprehensive research on what you’re going to feed them before even consider getting one.
As for enclosure, tamandua requires plenty of space, especially vertically since they are arboreal creatures who like to climb around in trees. They dislike cages and confined spaces, so you’ll need to have an ample space if you want to keep them enclosed.
Finally, there’s a small issue about anteaters that can’t be ignored and can cause a lot of trouble for pet owners: the smell of their pee is worse than a skunk’s spray.
They rarely become potty trained and frequently pee to mark territory until they get used to their new environment. You better be prepared to clean a lot if you’re planning on keeping them indoors.
You can’t treat health problems of the Tamandua with the same medicine as your cat or dog. You’ll need the supervision of an experienced veterinary who knows how to handle anteaters since common treatments may not suit them or could straight up harm them.
If you’re considering getting an anteater your first task would be finding a veterinary near you that can tend to your anteater in case of an emergency and provide routine checkups.
Should You Have a Pet Anteater?
If you sincerely love the challenge of keeping an exotic pet and would go out of your way to make sure they live to their fullest and are well maintained, then keeping an anteater will reward you with the affection of a wonderful and loving partner.
Anteater owners say that these lovely animals are very expressive and affectionate, they love to spend time with humans and their faces show a range of expressions broader than regular cats and dogs.
They are brilliant animals that love to explore and play with everything, whether it’s seeking termites or ants in your home, swinging from trees or high places, or examining their surroundings, anteaters can be happy when kept in captivity as pets.
However, if you want an exotic pet but you’re just starting out as a pet owner, or don’t have enough time to invest to your pet, you’re better off finding a rare breed of dog or cat whose care is more straightforward than an anteater.
What do you think? Do you know anyone with a pet anteater? Do you know something we don’t? Let us know in the comments.