So you have to raise a baby giant anteater or tamandua….. now what? One of the challenges in bottle feeding these guys is selecting the right type of nipple and knowing how to properly position them. Below is a guide we created at the Nashville Zoo for when we have to hand-rear an anteater or a tamandua:
We use regular pet nurser bottles with marsupial nipples. Over time, the hole in the rubber nipple can become stretched out. If the hole becomes too big it can cause the pup to swallow its tongue, or increase the risk of aspiration. The bottle and nipple should be soaked in dilute (1:120) chlorohexidine solution daily.
Marsupial nipple: http://www.wxicof.com/Supplies/feeding/feeding.htm
The best feeding position for the neonate is slightly on its side, like it would be on the dam, with its head elevated. The tongue should be slightly extended while nursing and should be visible at all times while bottle feeding. The neonate should not be flicking its tongue in and out. If the pup chokes or swallows its tongue, remove the nipple from the mouth and allow the pup to re-group. They may need gentle, manual assistance with the tongue. Do not start to feed until the tongue is visible again.
Always contact a vet before making any changes to the feeding schedule or the diet. It is very important that all dietary changes be made gradually over a couple of days. Anteaters are very sensitive in their GI tract and do not tolerate large changes at a time.