Chaetophractus nationiAndean hairy armadillo

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Geographic Range

Chaetophractus nationi is endemic to Bolivia and northern Chile, in the Andes mountain range. (Yensen et al, 1994)

Habitat

Chaetophractus nationi lives in grasslands at high altitudes, in an ecosystem called the Puna. (Montgomery, 1985)

  • Average elevation
    3500 m
    11482.94 ft

Physical Description

Head and body length reaches 220 to 400 mm and the tail length is 90 to 175 mm. The head shield is 60 mm long and 60 mm wide. This armadillo has 18 dorsal bands, 8 of which are movable. (Nowak, 1999) Unlike other armadillos, Chaetophractus nationi has hair between the majority of its sclaes, and is completely covered on its legs and underside. Color varies from yellowish to light brown. As with other Dasypodids, the teeth are not covered in enamel, and grow continuously. Body temperature is regulated somewhat ectothermically, and burrows are used to cool down in the summer. (Yensen et al, 1994)

  • Average mass
    2150 g
    75.77 oz
    AnAge
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    3.118 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

Chaetophractus nationi is solitary, with males and females only coming together for mating purposes.

After mating in the fall, females are pregnant for two months before giving birth to a litter of two. After birth, an individual immediately develops epidermal scales that eventually harden and join to form armor plates. Each infant is fully dependent on its mother until weaning, which occurs at about 50 days. Young rely heavily on their mothers for almost a month until they develop adult teeth and begin to forage. Sexual maturity is reached at about nine months. (Grzimek, 1990)

  • Breeding season
    Fall
  • Average number of offspring
    2
  • Average number of offspring
    1.5
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    2 months
  • Average weaning age
    50 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    9 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    9 months

The female is solely responsible for parental care in this species.

Lifespan/Longevity

(Montgomery, 1985)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    20 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    12 to 16 years

Behavior

Chaetophractus nationi is nocturnal during the summer months to avoid the heat of the day and to maximize feeding time at night. However, in the winter nocturnal habits are reversed, and foraging occurs in the day time. These solitary creatures dig deep burrows on slopes to sleep in, but rarely use a burrow more than once. (Yensen et al, 1994)

Each individual's home range is approximately 3.4 hectares. (Montgomery, 1985)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Chaetophractus nationi is omnivorous, eating some small vertebrates, many insects, and some vegetation. (Greegor 1980)

  • Animal Foods
  • birds
  • mammals
  • reptiles
  • eggs
  • carrion
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • roots and tubers
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit

Predation

The bony plates of armour that surround this animal's body serve as protection from predators. (Nixon, 2000)

Ecosystem Roles

May limit harmful insect populations. (Montgomery 1985)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

In Bolivia and Chile, Andean Hairy Armadillos have been used for meat, musical instruments, decorations, good luck charms, and medicine for rheumatism. (Yensen et al, 1994)

Conservation Status

Chaetophractus nationi is so endangered that CITES has issued a no import/export policy for trade of this species. (1996 IUCN Red List)

Contributors

Anna Frostic (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Bret Weinstein (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carrion

flesh of dead animals.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

drug

a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

external fertilization

fertilization takes place outside the female's body

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

soil aeration

digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

References

Greegor, D. 1980. Diet of the Omnivorous Armadillos of Northwestern Argentina. Mammalia, 61: 331-334.

Grzimek, D. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals Volume 2. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Montgomery, G. 1985. Evolution and Ecology of Armadillos, Sloths, and Vermilinguas. London, England: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Nixon, J. 2000. "Armadillo Online" (On-line). Accessed November 14, 2001 at http://www.msu.edu/~nixonjos/armadillo/index.html?http://www.msu.edu/~nixonjos/armadillo/chaetophractus.html.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World (Sixth Edition, Volume 1). Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Yensen, E., T. Tarifa, S. Anderson. 1994. New distributional records of some Bolivian mammals. Mammalia, 58 (3): 405-413.