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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 68

black object, very conspicuous against the vivid green. It was a giant ant-eater, or tamandu&á bandeira, one of the most extraordinary creatures of the latter-day world. It is about the size of a rather small black bear. It has a very long, narrow, toothless snout, with a tongue it can project a couple of feet; it is covered with coarse, black hair, save for a couple of white stripes; it has a long, bushy tail and very powerful claws on its fore feet. It walks on the sides of its fore feet with these claws curved in under the foot. The claws are used in digging out ant-hills; but the beast has courage, and in a grapple is a rather unpleasant enemy, in spite of its toothless mouth, for it can strike a formidable blow with these claws. It sometimes hugs a foe, gripping him tight; but its ordinary method of defending itself is to strike with its long, stout, curved claws, which, driven by its muscular forearm, can rip open man or beast. Several of our companions had had dogs killed by these ant-eaters; and we came across one man with a very ugly scar down his back, where he had been hit by one, which charged him when he came up to kill it at close quarters.
  As soon as we saw the giant tamandu&á we pushed off in a rowboat, and landed only a couple of hundred yards distant from our clumsy quarry. The tamandu&á throughout most of its habitat rarely leaves the forest, and it is a helpless animal in the open plain. The two dogs ran ahead, followed by Colonel Rondon and Kermit, with me behind carrying the rifle. In a minute or two the hounds overtook the cantering, shuffling creature, and promptly began a fight with it; the combatants were so mixed up that I had to wait another minute or so before