Loss of Habitat May Be Factor in Giant Anteaters’ Fatal Attacks on Two Humans in Brazil

By Elaine Magliaro

Sorry that I’ve been away from FFS for such a long time. I’ve been nursing an injured foot.


Yesterday, I read a story on Yahoo News about two hunters in Brazil who were killed by giant anteaters in separate incidents. I had never thought that anteaters could be such dangerous animals. Kerry Sheridan—who wrote the story—said that these killings have raised concerns with researchers about the anteaters’ loss of habitat—and about “the growing risk of dangerous encounters with people…” She said, “The long-nosed, hairy mammals are not typically aggressive toward people and are considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), largely due to deforestation and human settlements that encroach on their territory.” She added that the animals have poor vision and may attack if frightened. It was reported that the front claws of giant anteaters “are as long as pocketknives”

According to Sheridan, case studies of these two fatal attacks on humans were “described in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, which released the paper online this month, ahead of its publication in the December print issue.” Vidal Haddad of the Botucatu School of Medicine at Sao Paulo State University, the lead author of the report, told AFP that both victims “were farmers, were hunting and were attacked by wounded or cornered animals.”

In one incident, an anteater “stood on its hind legs and grabbed the man with its forelimbs, causing deep puncture wounds in his thighs and upper arms.” The hunter was said to have bled to death at the scene. That tragic encounter occurred on August 1, 2012. Sheridan said that the incidents hadn’t been written about in scientific literature until now.

In the other incident—which occurred in 2010—a 75-year-old man died “when an anteater used its long front claws — which typically help it dig into anthills — to puncture his femoral arteries, located in the groin and thigh.” Haddad said that the injuries were very serious and that they have “no way of knowing whether it is a defense behavior acquired by the animals.” Haddad added that “such attacks are rare, but said they are important because they show the need for people to give wild animals plenty of space.”

Giant Anteater (Sir David Attenborough)


Giant anteaters kill two hunters in Brazil (Yahoo/AFP)

Two Hunters Attacked and Killed by Giant Anteaters in Brazil (IBT)


Giant anteater (Wikipedia)

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5 Responses to Loss of Habitat May Be Factor in Giant Anteaters’ Fatal Attacks on Two Humans in Brazil

  1. Scene: Purgatory, long lines of benches filled with people awaiting Judgement.
    Jim: So what brings you here? I was hit by a car.
    Alex: I don’t want to talk about.
    Jim: Oh, come on! We’re all dead here. It’s okay. Really. That guy over there? Auto-erotic asphyxiation. Let’s hear it. How’d you buy the farm?
    Alex: (mumbles)
    Jim: What was that? I couldn’t make out what you said.
    Alex: (still mumbling) annteepurr
    Jim: You were killed by Ann Peters? Lover’s quarrel?
    Alex: No, dammit! I was killed by an anteater!
    Jim: Oh yeah. Pull the other one.
    Alex: And you wonder why I don’t want to talk about it.

  2. It is an increasing problem all over. Local animal control has had to remove several black bears from trees in people’s back yards. It is only a matter of time. We have seen cougar near here as well. They are making a comeback, but with increasing population density…even in our remote backwoods….it is only a matter of time before something bad happens.

  3. In all seriousness, wild animals – even ones that aren’t apex predators directly dangerous to humans – should be given a great deal of respect. And distance. I grew up around swamps. I’m not afraid of alligators, but I would never try to pet one or do something inviting attack like cleaning fish by the shore.

  4. We had a big boar raccoon a couple of years ago. I would throw a bag of garbage in the back of the truck, and by morning he would have climbed up there and helped himself. He was really big. One night I went out there and met him by the back of the pickup. I yelled at him and stomped my foot as though I was going to come at him. Instead of turning and running like most wild animals, he reared up on his back legs and showed his teeth and claws. Knowing that a full grown raccoon can kill a good dog, I decided to go back in the house and clean up any mess the next morning. As soon as I turned and walked away, he waddled off the opposite direction. Less than a week later, I saw him dead in the middle of our road, about a half block down from the house. Obviously he had been run over, but he was so big, I imagine whoever hit him really had a jolt.

    However, not as bad for a motorist as the morning kiddo came in from work at the jail, but was a good half hour late. I asked her how come she was late, and she said she had come upon a dead black bear in the middle of the highway. A state trooper was already on scene, waiting on the highway department guy who picks up road kill to get there. She was still in her Sheriff’s Department uniform, so she stopped and helped the trooper get traffic stopped and directed around the dead bear.

    The highway department fellow drives a little Ford Ranger pickup truck, and uses a snow shovel and broom to pick up road kill. She was sure that bear would be too much for a snow shovel. I think they had to use the wrecker with a hoist to get that bear out of the road.

  5. blouise says:


    I have a nasty raccoon around my house right now. He doesn’t scare … just stands and hisses at me. And the other day my neighbor was attacked by a buck … I kid you not. Her dog was in their backyard barking away at this deer … she went out to get the dog and the deer attacked her. We called 911 and the ambulance took her … she had several stitches and huge bruises. I live in a small town but this isn’t the wilderness or even the country … we are 20 miles from Cleveland.

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