Vol 7, Issue 4, November 2020

Evaluating the Influence of Conspecifics on a Male Giant Anteater's (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) Pacing Behavior


Eyer, A. E., & Miller, L. J. (2020). Evaluating the influence of conspecifics on a male giant anteater’s (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) pacing behavior. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 7(4), 556-566. doi: https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Stereotypic behavior has been studied in various species, but little information exists on stereotypies in giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) under professional care. Giant anteaters are known for their solitary nature and well-developed sense of smell. This study examined the effect of conspecifics who were housed off-exhibit on a male giant anteater’s rate of pacing and pacing intensity when he was on-exhibit. Instantaneous sampling was used to determine the percentage of time pacing, the number of pacing bouts and pacing bout duration. Randomization tests determined that the reduction in the male giant anteater’s rate of pacing significantly decreased after conspecifics were relocated to a different building. Pacing bout duration, a potential measure of intensity, also significantly decreased during the treatment phase. In addition, the giant anteater changed his pacing location after the removal of conspecifics. He transitioned from pacing near the conspecifics’ off-exhibit location during the baseline to the opposite quadrant of the exhibit after their departure. These results suggest that keeping a male giant anteater in proximity to conspecifics without the ability to interact with them had an impact on his behavior. Better understanding the motivations for stereotypic behaviors of giant anteaters will better inform housing decisions made by zoo professionals.


Animal behavior, Animal welfare, Neighbors, Stereotypies, Pilosa, Xenarthrans