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November 18, 2017  |  Login

Giant Armadillo
Priodontes maximus

 
 
 
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What Are They Like?

Reminiscent of a prehistoric creature, the giant armadillo is by far the largest of the armadillo species. The body of an adult measures 30–39 inches (73–100 centimeters) in length, and can weigh up to 66 pounds (30 kilograms). The giant armadillo’s back and neck is covered with 11–13 flexible, hinged plates. Its body is brown, except for the head and tail, which is a pale yellow or white . They are equipped with large, powerful front claws, which are useful for digging burrows and ripping open termite mounds to feed.

Where Do They Live?

Giant armadillos are found in South America, east of the Andes, from northwestern Venezuela to northeastern Argentina. They inhabit burrows near water in grassland, brushland, woodland and forest habitats.

 
Did You Know?
Giant armadillos have 80–100 teeth, which is more than any other mammal.

How Are Babies Made?

The gestation period for the giant armadillo is four months, usually producing one to two offspring.

What Do They Eat?

Giant armadillos feed mainly on termites and ants, but are also known to eat worms, spiders, small snakes and lizards.

 
Did You Know?
The giant armadillo can balance itself on its hind legs to reach high into termite mounds.

What Do They Do?

Giant armadillos are nocturnal creatures that show little social or territorial behavior. They often forage for food alone, and only make contact with others for mating purposes. They dig large burrows that they rest in during the day. Because of their size, these armadillos cannot completely conceal themselves in their shell, and as a result, will dig to escape predators.

How Concerned Should We Be?

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps a “Red List” of species in danger worldwide, lists the giant armadillo as “vulnerable.” Giant armadillos are naturally rare in the wild and their populations are steadily decreasing. The biggest threats facing the giant armadillo are overhunting and loss of habitat due to deforestation. Giant armadillos are also thought to be responsible for damaging crops and are often killed by native farmers.

What's Being Done?

The giant armadillo is listed on Appendix I of CITES. Although they are present in many protected areas, there is a still a strong need to regulate and decrease hunting of the species, and to maintain their natural habitats where viable populations occur.

 

Giant Armadillo

 
 
 
 
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