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Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Silky Anteater

Adam and I decided against the social hour during one of our final nights at Bocas del Toro, instead venturing off into the dark trails.  Neither of us had much in mind for what we were looking for, though I was keeping a keen eye out for insects in the adjacent trees and bushes.  Though we saw some neat hoppers and other such bugs, one of two highlights of our hike was a Silky Anteater.  I spotted it on a tree just off the trail at eye level.  Supposedly this is an extremely rare situation as they typically reside high up in the canopy.  Though not rare in numbers, their boreal and nocturnal habits make it a rare find.   The Silky Anteater gets it name from the Silk Cotton Tree that it frequents and it is noted that the sheen of its coat matches the silky cotton released from these trees.  The female bears one young per season and it is cared for by both parents, but not much else information is available on these small animals.  I was able to touch its coat which felt rather wooly and upon first contact it mounted the tree with its back legs and prehensile tail and put its front paws up to its face.  This is a previously described defensive position that can follow with an attack with its sharp primary claw hooks.  Indeed, these hooks were gnarly and looked similar to that of a sloth.  The animal soon relaxed and I was able to run my hands through its fur again.  It seemed to be a slow moving organism, though when we returned 10-15 minutes later, it was nowhere to be found.  A truly unique experience and a spectacular find!  No STRI resident has ever found one on the property.

Having a blast down here overall!  It’s been a great trip so far.