Anteaters are cute-looking creatures living in Central and South America that feed on ants and termites. One of their most noticeable body traits is the long and tapered snout they use to grab those insects.
But what about other creatures similar to them? Are there animals that look like anteaters?
Believe it or not, there are plenty of such. Pangolins, tapirs, armadillos, and aardvarks are the animals that resemble anteaters the most. Besides them, some similarities in looks can be found between anteaters and South American coati, long-beaked echidna, saiga antelope, weevils, some turtles, and even elephants.
Let’s explore all 10 of these anteater-looking animals and see their characteristics and what makes them look so alike.
At A Glance – Anteater Types
There are 4 species of anteaters: Giant anteater, Silky anteater, Southern Tamandua, and Northern Tamandua.
All of them have strong digging arms, long tongues, and toothless snouts that help them eat up to 35,000 ants a day! Here’s how two of them look.
Animals That Look Like Anteaters
Size: 12-39 in
Weight: 3.5-73 lb
Found In: Asia and Africa
Pangolins are sometimes called scaly anteaters, and no wonder why. Just like anteaters, they have elongated snouts and tongues they use to eat ants and termites with. One could easily say that pangolins look like anteaters covered in tough armored scales.
Despite their similar looks, pangolins and anteaters are not that closely related animals. Anteaters belong to the order Pilosa while pangolins are members of the Pholidota order.
They are the most trafficked mammals in the world: in the last 10 years, over a million pangolins have been illegally taken from the wild and used for food and medicine.
There are 8 species of pangolins: four of them live in Asia and four in Africa.
Size: 5.9-8.2 ft
Weight: 300-700 lb
Found In: South and Central America, Southeast Asia
Tapirs are large nocturnal mammals with heavy, strong bodies and big snouts, just like the anteaters. Despite having a long and prehensile nose trunk, unlike anteaters, they do not feed on insects. Tapirs are herbivores and feed on leaves, grasses, fruits, and berries.
A tapir may look like an anteater, but they aren’t closely related. Instead, tapirs are related to rhinos and horses. Anteaters are, believe it or not, closely related to sloths.
There are 34 species of tapir today. A tapir that resembles anteaters the most is the one with the longest snout, the Malayan tapir.
Size: 3.3-4.3 ft
Weight: 90-140 lb
Found In: Southern Africa
Aardvarks are medium-sized alien-looking nocturnal mammals that have long ears and live in Africa.
People often mistake aardvarks for anteaters due to their long tubular snout, extensible tongue, and similar size. Oh, and you will find both burrowing the ground in pursuit of food – both love to feed on ants and termites.
Both of them are excellent diggers but have a poor sense of vision. What they both have though, is an excellent sense of smell that helps them find their next meal.
However, despite looking alike, they are different species. Aardvarks belong to a completely different order called Tubulidentata.
Due to its burrowing habits and slight similarity with a pig, aardvark got its name from the word “erdvark” which means “earth pig” or “ground pig” in Afrikaans.
And if you open an English dictionary, “aardvark” is the first word you will find.
Size: 15-23 in
Weight: 8-17 lb
Found In: South America
Armadillos are other armored animals that look a bit like anteaters. Just like the pangolin, it is covered in thick plates that protect the animal against predators.
The long-nosed armadillos, as their name suggests, have long sticky tongues and pointy snouts. And just like anteaters, they feed on ants and termites.
Armadillo’s snout is significantly shorter than anteater’s but still gives a similar impression. It is no wonder people sometimes mistake these two animals for one another.
These two animals are related – anteaters are the armadillos’ closest relatives, together with sloths.
Armadillos got their names from the Spanish word “armadillo” which means “little armored one”.
South American Coati
Size: 16-28 in
Weight: 4-16 lb
Found In: South America
Nasua nasua (South American Coati) is a species of mammals that belong to the raccoon family. The most notable feature of a coati is the long, pointed snout. It seems similar to the one of an anteater, only shorter.
Their Latin name (Nasua) comes from the Latin word for ‘nose’, referring to the long snout. Their common name (Coati) comes from the way these animals sleep – they tuck their nose into their belly.
They are good swimmers, excellent climbers, and often babysit one another’s offspring. Coatis are vital in controlling insect populations and helping disperse fruit; this is key for the survival of certain plants.
Size: 31 in
Weight: 36 lb
Found In: New Guinea
The long-beaked echidna is thought to be the earth’s oldest living mammal. It is an egg-laying animal that lives in New Guinea.
It has short spines scattered among its coarse hairs, and a long boney tube called a “beak” it uses to eat insects and earthworms. That tube is what makes echidnas appear similar to anteaters.
There are 3 species of long-beaked echidna: the Eastern one is listed as vulnerable, while Sir David’s and the Western one are critically endangered.
Size: 0.1- 0.4 in
Found In: Worldwide
Weevils are bugs that slightly resemble an anteater, mostly due to their body shape and a long down-curving snout.
There are about 97,000 species of weevils today and they are notorious for destroying plants, grains, and various types of food products. They do not attack humans or animals.
Spiny Softshell Turtle
Size: 7-20 in
Weight: 25 lb
Found In: North America
The spiny softshell turtle is a species of turtle that can be found in freshwaters of North America. It has a long and anteater-like nose. If you want to see the resemblance with anteaters, try focusing on the head and nose of the turtle.
What makes it different from other turtles is the soft, flat, and rubbery shell.
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Size: 8.2-13 ft
Weight: 14,000 lb
Found In: Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia
Elephants, the world’s largest land animals, have a long trunk, which makes them similar to anteaters. The elephant trunk is prehensile, has 40,000 muscles, and is used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and grabbing things.
Of course, you wouldn’t mistake an elephant for an anteater, but these animals still share some resemblances due to their trunk length and shape. Elephant calves are what reminded us the most of anteaters.
Read More: Do elephants hibernate or migrate?
Size: 24–32 in
Weight: 57–152 lb
Found In: Central Asia
Saiga antelope is the last on our list of animals that look like anteaters, mostly due to their long and weird-looking snouts.
To see similarities in looks between a saiga antelope and an anteater you might have to close one eye and squint on the other.
The nose that hangs over their mouth helps them filter out dust and cool their bodies down while crossing long distances during the summer.
They live in the dry steppe grasslands and semi-arid deserts of Central Asia and can run up to 50 mph.
Do you think that they are faster than llamas? < check out this article and find out.
What Animals Are Related To Anteaters?
Anteaters include 4 species that belong to the order Pilosa (Latin for “hairy”). There are 2 members of that order that are currently alive: anteaters and sloths. This means that the sloths are the anteaters’ closest relatives!
Sloths are most famous for their slow movement and spend most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees. Sloths can be found in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America.
Anteaters are also xenarthrans, they belong to the superorder Xenarthra – besides sloths, they are also related to armadillos.
It should be noted that all of these animals belong to different families – which means they are not extremely closely related. Nevertheless, they still share some relations and can be called anteater’s relatives.
There are many animals whose appearance can be compared to that of an anteater. Anteaters have long distinctive snouts, just like pangolins, aardvarks, armadillos, and many other animals.
Some look more alike than anteaters than others; sometimes, it just takes a bit more imagination to see the similarities in their looks.
Read more: Animals with huge and hilarious foreheads
Long-beaked echidna – Dega180, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons