Northern tamandua
Tamandua mexicana

T. mexicana ranges from southern Mexico in the north of its range, through Central America as far south as northwestern Peru and northwestern Venezuela. It ranges from sea level to 2,000 m asl, although most sightings have been recorded from areas below 1,000 m asl (Cuervo-Díaz et al., 1986; Eisenberg, 1989, Cuarón, 2005; Tirira, 2007).


The most common coloration is tan with a black vest on back and sides (Wetzel, 1985) but uniformly tan individuals without vest also occur.


T. mexicana is found in tropical and subtropical dry and moist forest, including mixed deciduous and evergreen habitats. It can also be found in mangroves and grassland with some trees. It can survive in secondary forests and in disturbed habitats.


T. mexicana can move, feed and rest on the ground and trees (Lubin and Montgomery, 1981; Montgomery, 1985a, 1985b). It also swims (Esser et al., 2010).
This species is common in appropriate habitat. It is, however, considered uncommon in Ecuador (Tirira, 2007, 2008), where populations are highly fragmented. Population density estimates vary from 0.06 individuals per hectare in Costa Rica (Guariguata et al., 2002) to 0.13 individuals per hectare in Panama (Montgomery, 1985a). Its home range has been estimated at 25 hectares in Central America and Ecuador (Montgomery, 1985a; Tirira, 2007) and 70 hectares in Panama (Eisenberg, 1989).
The females give birth to one young at any time of the year (Reid, 1997). Gestation length estimates vary between 130 and 150 days (Silveira, 1969). The mating behavior has been described by Matlaga (2006).


Roadkills, wildfires and habitat change are affecting this arboreal anteater, but the scope of these threats is unknown. In rural Ecuador, T. mexicana is persecuted because it attacks domestic dogs when defending itself (Tirira, 2007). It is used as a pet species in southern Mexico (Lira-Torres, 2006), and indigenous people may hunt it for food in some areas (Espinoza et al., 2003; Méndez-Cabrera and Montiel, 2007).


T. mexicana is listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, its occurrence in a number of protected areas, its tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
The population of T. mexicana in Guatemala is listed on Appendix III of CITES. It has been recorded from several protected areas, among them Soberanía National Park (Panamá), Machalilla National Park, and the Ecological Reserves Arenillas, Cotacachi-Cayapas, Mache-Chindul and Manglares Churute (all in Ecuador; Tirira, 2007).


Additional information and a complete list of references can be found in: Superina, M., F.R. Miranda, and A.M. Abba (2010): The 2010 Anteater Red List Assessment. Edentata 11(2): 96-114. This article is available here.


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