Never has an animal scratching itself looked quite as debonair as this smooth operator...

The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) was caught on a remote camera trap recently while taking a bath in Brazil's Cerrado region, a vast swathe of tropical savanna that's home to an array of unique species.

The anteater's ablutions likely help to remove parasites and protect the animal's skin from any nasty bugs (plus, the suave scratcher also seems to be really enjoying his wallow).

The footage was captured by a research team working on a four-year project to investigate giant anteater road mortality. The goal is to find solutions to reduce the number of individuals killed in vehicle collisions.

Over the last 35 years, more than half of the Cerrado has been converted into farmland, and agricultural development has meant this landscape has been increasingly cut up by extensive road networks. Sadly, several species are suffering as a result – and giant anteaters are faring the worst.

To assess the extent of the damage caused by vehicle collisions, a research team headed up by Dr Arnaud Desbiez created a project called Anteaters and Highways. Over the next few years they hope to learn as much as they can about the impact of roads on giant anteater populations in the area, and to figure out how best to reduce conflict with people. Let's hope it works. The world would be a much sadder place without bathing anteaters.


Header image: cuatrok77/Flickr