The lesser anteater has a wide distribution, occurring in almost all of Brazil.1 Urinary tract diseases have been little reported in captive anteaters.2 According to a study that analyzed 200 different anteater’s disease cases, only two animals presented with some kind of urinary disorder.2
In October 2009, an approximately two-month-old orphan lesser anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) was received at the Aquário de São Paulo. Five months after its arrival frequent hematuria was noticed. Urine was collected for urinalysis and bacterial culture. On the first exam, bacterial infection was observed along with triple phosphate crystals and urine alkalinity. The treatment goals were to acidify the urine and to eliminate the crystals and the bacterial infection.
Antibiotic treatment was based on antibiogram results. Apple cider vinegar was administered to acidify the urine and to eliminate the crystals. In addition, more liquid items such natural citric fruit juice were added to the diet. The animal was monitored weekly with urine exams for six months. Tests such as blood count, biochemical profile, and ultrasound were performed to monitor changes in the urinary tract. Treatment lasted for three and a half months. Treatment ceased after successive negative bacterial culture and normal urine exams. Currently, blood and urine tests are performed as part of the animal preventive medicine management to ensure safer clinical health of the animal. These procedures also promote access to critical information to establish benchmarks of utmost importance for maintaining this species in captivity.
1. Medri IM, Mourão G, Rodrigues FHG. Ordem Xenarthra. In: Reis NR, Peracchi AL, Pedro WA, Lima IP, eds. Mamíferos do Brasil. Londrina, Brazil: Midiograf; 2006:71–99.
2. Diniz LSM, Costa EO, Oliveira PMA. Clinical disorders observed in anteaters (Myrmecophagidae, Edentata) in captivity. Veterinary Research Communication. 1995;19:409–415.