2 Hunters in Brazil Killed ... by Giant Anteaters
Animals are normally harmless to humans, but startle easily
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2014 8:17 AM CDT
This image provided by Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia shows a giant anteater in Manaus, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia/TEAM)

(Newser) – Some 5,000 giant anteaters are thought to exist in the wild, and encounters with humans are rare and largely harmless. The hairy animals with long noses and an appetite for insects do sport "pocketknives" for front claws, AFP reports, which they typically put to use digging into anthills. In two separate incidents in Brazil, however, the 4- to 7-foot-long animals have dug into people instead, and the hunters who encountered them bled to death after being punctured in their thighs and upper arms; one man was hit in the femoral arteries. Both cases, one in 2010 and one in 2012, have just been described in scientific literature this month.

"These injuries are very serious and we have no way of knowing whether it is a defense behavior acquired by the animals," one researcher says, adding that it's important to give the anteaters space. One estimate has their population down by about 30% in the past decade due to loss of habitat, wildfires, hunting, and roadkill, and they are now considered a vulnerable species. An expert in Brazil says she hopes the news of the incidents doesn't further threaten the animals: "We have a lot of problems with this species because people believe that (they) bring bad luck and kill the animal on purpose." Adding to the trouble: Anteaters have poor vision and are known for being easily startled.

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
Jul 30, 2014 10:49 PM CDT
Yeah, kill the anteaters so we can have more ants. Assholes need to leave animals alone unless they're going to eat them.
Joel Z Williams
Jul 29, 2014 10:44 PM CDT
I feel like it's unethical for them to report this without saying WHY the anteaters attacked the men. Now, every yahoo with a gun is going to shoot every anteater on sight thinking it's like a grizzly bear.
Jul 29, 2014 8:29 PM CDT
Anteaters 2, Hunters 0. This is what happens when you arm bears.