Can You Own A Pet Anteater?

Do anteaters make good pets? The answer depends on you and which subspecies you plan to get. While many websites say, that anteaters are the best pets under the sun, the reality is often different. Anteaters or tamanduas are exotic pets that aren’t easy to care for. Additionally, there are also many disadvantages compared to traditional pets like cats and dogs.

Giant anteater

I know these animals, which are related to armadillos, are fascinating and I can fully understand that people want them as pets. However, in this article, I want to convince you, that you should think about it again.

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Anteater?

Yes, in many states you can legally own a pet anteater, but there are exceptions. Some states also don’t prohibit ownership in general, but you might need a license or a permit.

If you can legally own the pet of your choice also depends hugely on the species you choose. Giant anteaters are endangered and listed as vulnerable. Nobody is allowed to take one of these animals from the wild. Beyond that, it would be highly unethical too.

Other species are the silky or pygmy anteater and the northern tamandua as well as the southern tamandua which are also known as lesser anteaters. All of them are way smaller and people keep them as pets.

You see, this aspect makes keeping pet anteaters not easier.

Hunters Will Take A Baby Anteater From Its Mother

Baby anteater on back of the mother

Yes, this is true. The tamanduas you can buy as a pet are most likely taken from their mothers. Hunters will shoot the parents to get the offspring and sell it for high amounts to people who love to have an exotic pet.

If you love animals you wouldn’t support this. I can’t understand the owners of websites who say in their article how great tamanduas as pets are and a few sentences later they talk about this fact.

Learn more about where our exotic pets come from in this article at

Anteaters Aren’t Domesticated

As affectionate and playful tamanduas might be, they are not domesticated. It’s not that they would be dangerous animals like pet mountain lions where instincts can put lives at risk. But you would have a hard time potty train an anteater.

Anteaters Have Scent Glands

The problem with anteaters is, that they are really smelly. Their scent glands are stronger than the ones from a skunk. The smell of honey badgers and weasels is nothing in comparison.

You might survive this attack on your nose when your pet tamandua lives outside most of the time but that would be hard to manage. Tamanduas like the presence of humans and they want to be near you. Additionally, you might need to protect them from cold or hot weather. Keeping them outside your house all the time isn’t really an option.

Tamanduas Need A Lot Of Trees To Be Happy

Tamandua on a tree

Anteaters spend most of the day in trees. Also, they go on the ground from time to time, but you have to ensure, that your pet has enough opportunities to climb.

Cat trees can do the job to a certain degree, but nothing can replace a real tree. A large garden is nearly inevitable. But be careful that you don’t place important belongings under a limb. Chances are high, that your tamandua urinates down the trees.

Anteaters Need A Special Diet

Anteaters are insectivores and according to their size, they need a lot of their small prey. The name might make you think that ants are the favorite food of tamanduas, but they like termites more.

The strong claws make it easy to break rotting trunks apart to get their meal. However, anteaters have no teeth and if you supplement other food, it has to be of the right consistency. Many pet anteaters like soft fruits and vegetables very much.

Don’t think that the animal will find enough insects in your garden. In the wild, they spend more than half of their time for searching food. You definitely have to buy insects in bulk to make eating fun you have to serve some live insects as well.

Learn more about anteaters and their food in the video below.

Finding A Vet Is Difficult

Anteaters are generally healthy animals and not prone to any illnesses. But that doesn’t mean, that visits to the vet aren’t necessary. Regular check-ups should be done once a year and you want someone you go to in an emergency.

It’s not impossible to find a veterinarian who has some experience with tamanduas it’s just not as easy as with a cat or dog. Of course, it’s a lot easier in a city than in a rural area.

Anteaters Are Friendly

Yes, you got me right, are also positive things to say about pet tamanduas. I just think the negative ones overweigh.

However, anteaters are friendly and like to hang around with humans (just like sloths do, which they are closely related to). Their character makes them ideal for families with children who are willing to deal with all the complicated aspects as well.

Important is, that the parents can do all the work if their kids aren’t doing it. Often young children promise to clean the habitat and spend time with the pet. After a few weeks or months (or when they become adolescents) interests often decrease.

All the things written above are not necessarily true for giant anteaters. Even though they are generally friendly too, it happened, that the animals killed humans.

Anteaters Prefer To Live Solely

Most anteaters don’t like too much social interaction with conspecifics or other pets. It’s not a bad point, because you don’t need to buy more than one of these expensive animals.

Just have in mind, that it might be too much company if you already have a cat or dog.

Where To Buy An Anteater?

It’s definitely not easy to find a place where you can buy an anteater or tamandua. Even if you are still thrilled and want to get one, I recommend choosing some other pet. Have in mind, most likely a hunter will shoot the mother of a baby anteater to fulfill your wish.

The costs of the pet itself are also very high. Depending on the exact species, age and character you have to pay between 2500 $ and 8000 $ if you find a tamandua for sale. And that price is only the beginning. Vet care, food, shelter and other things continue to add up soon.

Dogs That Look Like Anteaters

If you like how anteaters or tamanduas look, this can really be an alternative. There are some dog breeds that look similar to anteaters with their long noses. Just do a quick research about different sighthounds like the mudhol.

I know it’s not the same but for most people definitely the better choice.

If you want to do something good for the species you can also adopt an anteater. This way you will spend a small amount to help conserve this incredible species. Wild animals belong in the wild and if you’d ask me, it’s the way to go if you really love animals.