Nutrition of the tamandua: I. Nutrient composition of termites (Nasutitermes spp.) and stomach content from wild tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla)


Oyarzun SE, Crawshaw GJ, Valdes EV. 1996. Nutrition of the tamandua: I. Nutrient composition of termites (Nasutitermes spp.) and stomach content from wild tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla). Zoo Biology 15:509-524



Arboreal termites (Nasutitermes spp.) and stomach contents from tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla) were collected in central Venezuela during the mid part of the dry season (March) of 1993 and 1994.Nutritional analyses were performed on each caste (workers (n = 3), soldiers (n = 5), and alates (n =1]), on mixed caste samples (n = 1), and on stomach contents from live (n = 5) and roadkill (n = 5) tamanduas. The chemical analysis, expressed on a dry matter (DM) basis, of termite workers, which constituted the majority of the nest populations, showed the highest crude protein (CP) (67%) and the lowest DM (25%) and fat (2%) values. Ash content varied from a low of 4% in alates to a high of 7% in soldiers. The alates contained substantially higher DM (41%) and fat (40%), which was reflected in a higher caloric value (6.88 kcal/g) (gross energy) [GE]), and relatively less CP (49%). Among the macrominerals, potassium (K) was consistently the highest, with an overall mean value of 0.54%, while the calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) levels showed overall means of 0.26% and 0.67%, respectively. Iron (Fe) was the highest among the trace minerals but highly variable (soldiers, 1,000 ppm; alates, 246 ppm; workers, 394 ppm). Differences in the concentrations of vitamin A and E were found among termites castes, with soldiers showing the highest values (20 and 85 ?g/g for retinol and a-tocopherol, respectively). Acid detergent fiber (ADF) was lower in the alates (13%) and workers (27%) compared to the soldiers (35%). Alates’ fat was more saturated (39%), while soldiers and workers had a much higher polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) concentration. In general, similar nutrient profiles were found between the tamandua stomach contents and the overall mean composition of Nasutitermes spp. However, stomach contents had much higher ADF, ash, and Fe concentrations (3 1%, 14%, and 2,748 ppm) than termites (25%, 5%, and 652 ppm) but lower CP, fat, GE, and Ca values (51%, 11%, 4.58 kcal/g, and 0.11% vs. 58%, 15%, 6.01 kcal/g, and 0.26% in termites). The relatively low concentrations of Ca in both stomach contents and termites may be indicative of a low requirement in Myrmecophaga compared to other mammalian species. Diets consumed by free-ranging tamanduas contained on a DM basis 51% CP, 11% fat, 14% ash, 31% ADF, 4.58 kcal/g GE, 0.11% Ca, 0.41% P, 2.52 ?g/g retinol, and 44.3 ?g/g ?-tocopherol. Duplication of these nutrient profiles might greatly benefit captive health and reproduction of this species.

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