Pichiciego, Lesser fairy armadillo, Pink fairy armadillo
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.Show More
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.Show Less
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
An insectivore is a carnivorous plant or animal that eats insects. An alternative term is entomophage, which also refers to the human practice of e...
Myrmecophagy is a feeding behavior defined by the consumption of termites or ants, particularly as pertaining to those animal species whose diets a...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
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.
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.
These armadillos are omnivores, feeding mainly on ants (insectivores). Sometimes they will eat worms, snails, and a variety of plant and root materials.
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.
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.
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.
Not much is known about the role Pink fairy armadillos play in the ecosystem.