Defenders of Wildlife
1130 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
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.
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.
Giant armadillos can live 12 to 15 years.
Giant armadillos are found in South America, east of the Andes, from
northwestern Venezuela to northeastern Argentina.
Giant armadillos live in burrows near water in
grassland, brushland, woodland and forest habitats.
The diet of giant armadillos consists of
termites, insects, spiders, worms, larvae, snakes and carrion.
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
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.
Giant armadillos are threatened by overhunting and the loss of habitat because
of human settlement and agricultural development.
Endangered Species Act, CITES* Appendix
*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
Source: Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World:
Volume I, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1999.