Pink Fairy Armadillo

Pink Fairy Armadillo

Pichiciego, Lesser fairy armadillo, Pink fairy armadillo

4 languages
Chlamyphorus truncatus
Population size
Life Span
4-10 yrs
120 g
90-115 mm

The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus ) or pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo (mammals of the families Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae, recognized by a bony armor shell), first described by Richard Harlan in 1825. This solitary, desert-adapted animal is endemic to central Argentina and can be found inhabiting sandy plains, dunes, and scrubby grasslands.

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Pink fairy armadillos have small eyes, silky yellowish white fur, and a flexible dorsal shell that is solely attached to its body by a thin dorsal membrane. In addition, its spatula-shaped tail protrudes from a vertical plate at the blunt rear of its shell. This creature exhibits nocturnal and solitary habits and has a diet that is mainly composed of insects, worms, snails, and various plant parts.

The conservation status for pink fairy armadillo is still uncertain, and it is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The decline in population for this species has generally been attributed to farming activities and predators including domestic dogs and cats. Pink fairy armadillos are found less commonly than they were a few decades ago, and the field sightings have been rare and incidental. Individuals that have been caught in the wild had a tendency to die during or a couple days after they were transported from their natural habitat to captive facilities. There is a sole record for the longevity of a pink fairy armadillo that was held in captivity more than four years; however, that particular case lacks scientific description.Armadillos' evolutionary distinctiveness, combined with their restricted geographic range, ongoing threats, and rarity, makes the urgent conservation attention extremely important for these species.

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The smallest of the armadillo family, the Pink fairy armadillo is endangered. It lives in parts of Argentina and other areas in South America and is currently threatened by destruction of its habitat and by domestic dogs. It is the only armadillo which has a dorsal shell that is almost completely separate from the body. It digs so fast it can bury itself in its burrow in seconds when threatened, the armor plate functioning as a cork to seal the entrance to the burrow.



The Pink fairy armadillo lives in central Argentina, and occurs south of Mendoza province and north of Rio Negro as well as south of Buenos Aires. They inhabit dry grasslands or sandy plains with cactus and thorn bushes.

Pink Fairy Armadillo habitat map
Pink Fairy Armadillo habitat map
Pink Fairy Armadillo
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Habits and Lifestyle

The Pink fairy armadillo is generally solitary and nocturnal, staying protected underground and only coming out to feed at night. In captivity they remain active all day round. It digs burrows beside large ant colonies to provide a constant source of food. They are amazing diggers, moving sand with their large front claws effortlessly. They move underground like swimming through water. The Pink fairy armadillo has very small eyes and relies greatly on hearing and touch to navigate. This species is forced to leave it burrow at the time of heavy storms because of the threat of drowning and getting its fur wet, as wet fur may cause an armadillo to die because it can't thermoregulate properly, and hypothermia may arise during night hours.

Group name

Diet and Nutrition

These armadillos are omnivores, feeding mainly on ants (insectivores). Sometimes they will eat worms, snails, and a variety of plant and root materials.

Mating Habits

1 pup
female, zed
male, lister

Because they are rare, little is known about the reproductive behavior of Pink fairy armadillos. They are solitary and may be polygynous, meaning that one male has exclusive mating rights with a number of females. Usually one young is born. The shell will not be completely hardened until the animal is fully grown.


Population threats

Habitat conversion as a result of agriculture (the plowing of fields) and compaction of soil from cattle ranching are probably the main threats facing this species, but predation by domestic dogs and cats is also a factor in its decline. The species is also poached for the pet trade or to sell on the black market, though most specimens taken from the wild will die within 8 days.

Population number

No estimate of population size is available for this species. According to the Pink Fairy Armadillo resource, the total population size of the species is around 100 individuals. Currently it is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

Not much is known about the role Pink fairy armadillos play in the ecosystem.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Pink fairy armadillo has the nickname of "sand-swimmer" because it can burrow through soil as quickly as a fish swimming in the sea.
  • The hard shell of this species is made up of 24 bands that enable it to curl up into a ball. Its armor is flattened at the rear so it is able to compress the dirt behind while digging.
  • The young of a Pink fairy armadillo is known as a 'pup', the females are 'zeds' and males 'listers'. A group is a 'fez'.
  • Armadillo is the Spanish word for "little armored one".
  • Armadillos can swim well and when diving are able to hold their breath for as long as 6 minutes.
  • Armadillos are excellent climbers and can climb over a fence if they can't dig underneath it.
  • Armadillos sleep for 16-18 hours a day in their burrows.


1. Pink Fairy Armadillo Wikipedia article -
2. Pink Fairy Armadillo on The IUCN Red List site -

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