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Dortmund, Germany

Stahl M.,Dortmund Zoo | Stahl M.,University of Zurich | Osmann C.,Dortmund Zoo | Ortmann S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition | Year: 2012

Summary: Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are among those mammals for which a particularly low metabolism has been reported. In order to verify presumably low requirements for energy, we used eight anteaters (two males, six females; aged 1-14years; body mass between 46 and 64kg) in a total of 64 individual trials, in which a variety of intake levels was achieved on various diets. Digestible energy (DE) intake was quantified by measuring food intake and faecal excretion and analysing representative samples for gross energy, and animals were weighed regularly. Maintenance DE requirements were calculated by regression analysis for the DE intake that corresponded to zero weight change. Differences between individuals were significant. Older anteaters (n=3 animals aged 12-15years in 29 trials) had lower relative requirements than younger ones (n=5 animals aged 1-7years in 35 trials); thus, giant anteaters resemble other mammals in which similar age-specific differences in energy requirements are known. However, estimated maintenance requirements were 347kJDE/kg0.75/day in the anteaters, which is low compared to the 460-580kJDE/kg0.75/day maintenance requirements of domestic dogs. The lack of knowledge that metabolic requirements are below the mammalian average could make species particularly susceptible to overfeeding, if amounts considered adequate for average mammals were provided. Non-scientific reports on comparatively fast growth rates and high body masses in captive giant anteaters as compared to free-ranging animals suggest that body mass development and feeding regimes in captivity should be further assessed. © 2011 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Gull J.M.,University of Zurich | Stahl M.,University of Zurich | Osmann C.,Dortmund Zoo | Ortmann S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition | Year: 2015

Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) are specialized insectivores and consume mainly ants and termites in the wild. In captivity, giant anteaters are either fed a complete diet, or a combination of a domestic carnivore diet with leaf eater pellets, or a traditional gruel-type diet. Soft faeces are a frequently encountered problem with this type of feeding. In the present study, we analysed diet and faeces composition, calculated digestibility and measured mean retention time on various diets in eight giant anteaters (total of n = 64 experiments). The results suggest that the digestive physiology of giant anteaters is similar to that of domestic dogs and cats in terms of nutrient digestibility and digesta retention. When testing correlations between faecal dry matter content and other variables, no relationship with dietary crude fibre content or mean digesta retention time could be detected. However, acid insoluble ash intake was significantly and positively correlated with faecal dry matter content. The amount of acid insoluble ash excreted with the faeces was higher than that ingested with the diet offered, indicating that the giant anteaters ingested soil from their enclosure of up to 93 g per day. This finding is consistent with observation of faeces of wild giant anteaters that contain soil or sand most likely due to indiscriminate feeding. It also corresponds to reports that indigestible materials such as peat, soil, chitin or cellulose contribute to a firmer faecal consistency in various carnivore species. Therefore, offering giant anteaters the opportunity to voluntarily ingest soil from their enclosure might be beneficial. © 2014 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

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