People are always asking me, “Luke, why do Americans spend billions of dollars on cats and dogs every year, without hesitation, but only hundreds of dollars on anteaters?”
Well, that’s a complicated question and there are no simple answers.
Like most Americans, I have mixed feelings about anteaters.
There is something about them that seems haphazard, from their funny-shaped bodies, which look like they’re assembled from parts of other animals, to their general attitude – furtive and sniffy.
I think that’s why you see so few of them in American neighborhoods.
If you’ve ever attempted to keep one as a pet, you know what I’m talking about. They’re hell on floors, what with their formidable front and hind claws. If left unattended, they spend their days clearing your rooms, since they can’t resist pushing furniture into corners.
If you opt to keep them in the backyard, they’ll lay waste to your lawn and decimate your landscaping. Again, it’s those claws.
Anteaters have no problem giving their offspring a piggyback ride, but don’t try it yourself!
If, like me, you think they’d be fun to ride around the neighborhood, forget it. They’re supremely uncomfortable. Plus, they really don’t like it and will do everything they can to buck you off.
Despite its greyhound-like speed, raising an anteater for sport is a poor idea. Anteater racing is outlawed in all 50 states and American Samoa.
There’s no point in buying an anteater, thinking you’re gonna get a watchdog. First of all, they can’t bark, so they can’t really signal you if there’s an intruder.
Secondly, they’re easily distracted, so a clever crook can get away with almost anything.
And third, even if they had some vague notion to protect you or your property, what are they going to do? Their superpowers are extraordinary nose suction and a whiplash tongue like a nimble strand of spaghetti.
Superman has Krypto, the Super Dog; Batman has Ace the Bat Hound. There’s no superhero anywhere that has a crime-fighting anteater. And what cool, catchy name would an anteater sidekick have, Sniffy?
Anteaters make wonderful traveling companions. Never, ever, let them drive, though.
Plus, even though they’re called anteaters and people will say all you need to do is feed them ants and grubs, as these pictures demonstrate, anteaters have no compunction about helping themselves to whatever you’re eating or drinking.
And even though they pretend to be sleepy most of the time, when there’s a tasty dessert or a glass of wine or a bowl of Cream of Wheat nearby, they move like lightning. That tongue zips out like a broken fan belt and that snout sniffs like Bulgarian Boxer Kubrat Pulev sucking up a milkshake.
Even if you yell, “No, No, No!” they don’t care. They’re fast and they’re clever.
A glass of wine helps an anteater unwind after a hectic day snuffling.
The same thing goes for an ice cream sundae.
On the other hand, they’re great with children. They’re fast learners and can be taught most of the standard dog tricks. In fact, they catch on to some tricks a lot quicker than a dog. Retrieving comes naturally to them. I’ve noticed that few children can resist dressing them up.
Some people like them for the soothing sounds they make when they settle in. To me, it sounds like a soft purring with a rumble backbeat. Also on the plus side, they don’t mind being used as a pillow or soft, warm footstool.
Although they relish learning new skills and tricks, anteaters can’t be taught basic housekeeping.
As you can see, there are a lot of issues surrounding successful anteater ownership. You’ll want to consider all of the factors before you make such a big decision.
In fact, I hope you’ll visit your library whenever there’s a pressing issue in your life. That means if you have trouble with your Kindle or you need to print out a boarding pass or you need a 24-hour wireless signal, come to us. We’re a chatty bunch and we derive a great deal of satisfaction from helping you sort things out. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to shut us up.
And, not wishing to seem immodest, but nearly all of us are as cute as an anty in a stroller.