Giant anteaters are predominantly solitary, except for mothers and their offspring (7). A single offspring is produced after a gestation period of 190 days (7). They are carried on their mother's back, aligned with the white stripe, so that they are very well camouflaged (2). Young are weaned after two months, although they may continue to be carried on their mother's back until they are nine months old (7). Recently, females have been discovered to occasionally produce a second infant, carrying the newborn on the back whilst accompanied by the older infant on foot (3).
There is considerable regional variation in behaviour of giant anteaters. In some areas, they are largely nocturnal, but in other regions they are active mainly during the day (8). They are almost blind, but have a very keen sense of smell (3). The majority of the diet is made up of ants and termites, which are detected by smell (5). Once a termite mound or anthill has been located, the anteater rips it open with its powerful claws and 'drinks' in the prey by creating a vacuum in its throat, sucking the insects in, aided by their long sticky tongues (3). An individual may eat up to 30,000 ants in one day (7). Contrary to popular belief, giant anteaters rarely feed from tall termite mounds, but seem to prefer low mounds (3). Ants and termites are not especially nutritious and to compensate for this, the giant anteater conserves energy by moving around slowly. They allow their body temperatures to fluctuate within limits, and they have the lowest body temperature of any terrestrial mammal, reaching as low as 32 degrees Celsius (3). Anteaters sleep for as much as 16 hours a day out in the open with their tail wrapped around them like a blanket (3).