Common silky anteater

(Cyclopes didactylus)

other common names

Common pygmy anteater


Order: Pilosa
Family: Cyclopedidae


Until recently, it was thought that there was only a single species of silky anteaters. However, a 10-year long investigation by Miranda et al. (2018) provided evidence that there are actually seven species of Cyclopes.

This species has a head-body length of 20 cm and a tail of 16.5–29.5 cm length. It weighs around 300 grams. The general color is brownish yellow, with a grey rump, legs, and tail. There is an irregular but distinctive dorsal stripe, with evident dorsal and ventral black stripes.


The common silky anteater is known from eastern Colombia, eastern and southern Venezuela, Trinidad Island, the Guianas, and northern and northeastern Brazil, with the southern limit being the São Francisco River.

Cyclopes didactylus has a genetically separated subpopulation (i.e., a disjunct distribution) in Brazil. One is limited to the northeast of the Brazilian Amazon (state of Pará), towards the Brazilian states of Maranhão and Piauí, and the other is a disjunct subpopulation in the northeastern Atlantic forest, including the states of Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, and Alagoas. According to the silky anteater specialist Flávia Miranda, these subpopulations were separated more than 2 million years ago.


Cyclopes didactylus can be found in evergreen tropical, mangrove, and secondary forests. The subpopulation in north-eastern Brazil is restricted to tropical moist lowland forests in the Atlantic Forest biome. It has been observed in red and white mangrove habitats.

Not much is known about the ecology of this arboreal anteater. On Trinidad Island, population density has been estimated at 4.6–5.5 individuals per km².


This is an opportunistic forager that almost entirely feeds on ants, but can also ingest beetles. To date, no termites have been identified in any study on its diet.


Female common silky anteaters usually give birth to a single young per year, usually in September-November, after a gestation of 120–150 days.


The threats to this species are unknown. It is probably affected by habitat loss, especially in the Brazilian Atlantic forest where large areas of native forests have been replaced by sugarcane plantations.

Population trend


conservation status

The extinction risk of this species has not been assessed since the new taxonomic classification. Hence, it should be considered Not Evaluated.