- A-Z Animals
The pink fairy armadillo is the tiniest of all armadillo species found throughout the world, first described in 1825 by Richard Harlan. At 13 cm, it can fit in the palm of an average human hand. These armadillos are adapted to live in the desert, endemic to a small region in Argentina.
These creatures are rarely observed out in the open because of their underground lifestyle. This has led to information about them being scarce.
Size: Length: 3.5–4.5 in (90–115 mm) Weight: 4.2 oz (120 g)
Body and Coloration: Their eyes are small, and they have silky yellowish white fur. The pink bony shell is attached to its body by a thin dorsal membrane. Also, its tail can be seen protruding from a vertical plate at the posterior end of its shell.
It is generally found in central Argentina, primarily the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Mendoza, San Luis, and San Juan.
They prefer scrubby grasslands and live in loose sandy dunes. Also, dry grasslands and sandy plains abounding in cactus or thorny bushes, sometimes serve as suitable habitation for them.
Insectivorous by nature, their diet primarily consists of ants and larvae but includes snails and worms as well. They have been known to eat plants if they cannot find insects to consume.
It is unclear if they drink water, but based on observed captive specimens, the general assumption is that they get their water needs from their food.
While the pink fairy armadillo’s lifespan has not been recorded in the wild, one of them lived in captivity for 4 years.
While they have no specific natural threats, this species is at risk from domestic animals like cats and dogs. They are also sometimes victims of wild boar attacks.
During the mating period, males keep an eye on a potential mate and will then approach her. He will touch the female’s dorsal region, causing the latter to wag her tail perhaps as an appreciation gesture. The male eventually proceeds further by sniffing while maintaining a close distance from his partner.
Very little information is known so far about the life cycle of this species. In general, females give birth to a young after a single breeding period. The juvenile’s shell is soft at birth. It will harden completely on reaching adulthood.
The IUCN lists the pink fairy armadillo as “Critically Endangered” or “CR” at present. In 2006, it made its way to the IUCN Red List’s NT or Near Threatened Category. In 2008 its status shifted to DD or Data Deficient.
They face several threats, including the risk of drowning during heavy storms, climate change leading to colder temperatures in its habitats, overuse of pesticides underground, and over-hunting for consumption.
It has been difficult to conserve due to its greatly shortened lifespan in captivity, which may even prevent it from being transferred in certain situations.