Friday, 1 May 2015

Pink fairy armadillo: World's Smallest and Cutest Armadillo

Pink Fairy Armadillo
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cingulata
Family: Dasypodidae
Subfamily: Euphractinae or Chlamyphorinae
Genus: Chlamyphorus
Species: Chlamyphorus truncatus
Conservation Status: Uncertain due to insufficient data, possibly endagered
Common Names: Pink fairy armadillo, Pichiciego

Meet the pink fairy armadillo, the world's smallest and probably cutest species of armadillo!

Where do they live?
This strange animal is endemic to the warm sandy plains of central Argentina, occurring south of Mendoza province as well as north of Rio Negro and south of Buenos Aires.

The species prefers to burrow in very dry soil. However,  they will leave their burrows if they get moistened by rainfall. The burrows are often located near anthills, so that they are close to their main food source.

Map showing the range of the Pink fairy armadillo in Argentina
Pink Fairy Armadillo Distribution

The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest member of the armadillo family, measuring only 9 to 11,5 cm (3.5-4.5 in) long, with an average weight of 120 g (4.2 oz). It is also the only armadillo that has a dorsal shell which is almost separated from the body. The flexible shell is solely attached to its body by a thin dorsal membrane.

Pink fairy armadillos have small eyes, silky yellowish white fur, and a spatula-shaped tail that protrudes from a vertical plate at the blunt rear of the shell.

What is their average life span?
Very little is known about the longevity of the species, but one specimen lived 4.3 years in captivity. The maximum lifespan may be much longer, though. More research is needed before giving a definitive answer to this question.

a mounted specimen
Mounted Pink Fairy Armadillo

What do they eat?
The diet of the pink fairy armadillo is omnivorous, mainly consisting of ants. However, they will have an occasional snack of insects, worms, snails, and various plant and root materials.

Behavior & Reproduction
Pink fairy armadillos are solitary animals that stay in their burrows during the day and feed at night. As mentioned before, they are forced to leave the burrows when heavy storms roll in due to the threat of drowning and the risk of the fur getting wet. If the fur get's wet, there is a good chance that the armadillo will die because it can't properly thermoregulate and hypothermia may set it during night hours.

Pink fairy armadillos will usually approach each other only for mating purposes. They are believed to be polygamous with the female giving birth to one young. Baby armadillos look like miniatures of their parents, however the shells do not completely harden until they are full grown.

Video showing a pink fairy armadillo

Is the pink fairy armadillo threatened?
As of 2015, this cute little creature is listed by the IUCN as Data Deficient because there is little information about the population status of this species, and its biology and ecology are poorly known.

However, the populations appear to be declining as sighting become rarer and rarer each passing year.

This decline is mainly attributed to farming activities and introduced predators including domestic dogs and cats.

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