BackgroundThe southern tamandua, Tamandua tetradactyla (Linnaeus, 1758), is the most common species of anteater. Even though much is known about its ecology, behavior, and parasites, there is very limited information about bone diseases in Tamandua and other anteaters. Here, we examined postcranial skeletons of 64 T. tetradactyla museum specimens covering most of the material available in Brazilian collections.ResultsThe following bone diseases were identified for the first time in Tamandua and other extant and fossil vermilinguans: osteophytes, osteitis, osteoarthritis, periostitis, exostoses, enthesopathies, and a severe chronic pyogenic osteomyelitis associated with fistulae, cloacae (pus), bone loss, and neoformation processes. Musculoskeletal reconstruction revealed that an old specimen was restricted to terrestrial locomotion due to osteopathological processes that impaired its climbing.ConclusionsNew osteopathological informations are presented for T. tetradactyla, favoring a better understanding of the expression of some bone diseases in wild animals. In addition, the diagnosis of these bone diseases in living anteaters provides useful information for studies on animal health and welfare, as well as contributing to the more effective recognition of paleodiseases in fossil xenarthrans.