GIANT ARMADILLO
Priodontes maximus


 
Defenders of Wildlife

Defenders of Wildlife
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 1-800-385-9712

defenders@mail.defenders.org

STATUS:

Endangered.

DESCRIPTION:

The necks and backs of giant armadillos are covered in flexible "armor" consisting of 14 to 17 moveable bands of horn and bone. Their heads are protected by a similar oval shield. Small, closely set plates of armor cover their tales. Giant armadillos are dark brown except for their heads, tails and the lower edges of their shells, which are nearly white. Giant armadillos have sparse hairs scattered between their plates. Their forefeet have large powerful claws. They are very agile and sometimes balance themselves on their hind legs and tails, with their forefeet off the ground.

SIZE:

The head and body of giant armadillos measure 30- to 40- inches long, and their tails reach about 20 inches. Armadillos can reach 130 pounds, but most weigh between 40 and 70 pounds.

  
LIFESPAN:

Giant armadillos can live 12 to 15 years.

RANGE:

Giant armadillos are found in South America, east of the Andes, from northwestern Venezuela to northeastern Argentina.

HABITAT:

Giant armadillos live in burrows near water in grassland, brushland, woodland and forest habitats.

FOOD:

The diet of giant armadillos consists of termites, insects, spiders, worms, larvae, snakes and carrion.

BEHAVIOR:

Giant armadillos are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active at night and sleep during the day. They are powerful and quick diggers. Giant armadillos dig the burrows they travel through and live in. They also dig to find food and to escape predators.
OFFSPRING:

After a gestation period of four months, females give birth to one or two young. Newborns have leathery skin and weigh up to four pounds at birth.

THREATS:

Giant armadillos are threatened by overhunting and the loss of habitat because of human settlement and agricultural development.

PROTECTION:

Endangered Species Act, CITES* Appendix I.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I listed species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II listed species can be traded commercially only if it does not harm their survival.

Source: Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World: Volume I, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.