Pink fairy armadillos are endemic to the deserts and scrub lands of central Argentina. The geographic range of pink fairy armadillos is limited to the east by high amounts of rainfall which would flood their burrows. They are mainly found in the provinces of Mendoza, San Luis, Buenos Aires, La Pampa and San Juan. Their geographic range is found in the Neotropical region. It is thought that the range of the pink fairy armadillos is restricted and their population numbers are low due to adverse effects seen with climatic changes in the past. (Bourghi, et al., 2011; Minoprio, 1945; Superina, 2010)
Pink fairy armadillos are found in dry grasslands and sand filled plains. They are a fossorial species that lives primarily in loose sandy dunes, and this preference restricts their areas of habitation. Pink fairy armadillos also prefer areas with some shrubbery. The pink fairy armadillo can live anywhere from sea level to 1500m in elevation. (Superina, 2006; Superina, et al., 2014)
Pink fairy armadillos are the smallest extant armadillo. As an adult,they have a body length of approximately 13cm and an average body mass of 120g. As with other fossorial species, the pink fairy armadillo has digging claws on its front legs, reduced eye size, and a fusiform body shape. Like other armadillos they have a carapace, but their carapace is only attached dorsally by a thin membrane down the midline. They also have large plates that protect the back of their head, they do not have visible ears, and the end of their tail is flat and diamond-shaped. Armadillos, in general, have low body temperatures as a result of their low basal metabolic rates and they have high thermal conductance. Their low metabolic rate is 40 to 60 percent less than what is predicted for a mammal of their body mass, and this low rate is expected to help keep their body temperature lower in their burrows. Since their body temperatures and basal metabolic rates are low, they have fur under their armor to keep them warm. Their fur is described as yellowish white in color and long. They have 24 bands on their armored shell which is light pinkish in color and there is an extra vertical plate at the end of the armor that gives the carapace its blunt end. The pink fairy armadillo has a tooth formula of 0/0 0/0 4/4 3/3 = 14 x 2 = 28. Like most armadillos they have simple teeth that are homodont and their teeth also have no enamel. (Bourghi, et al., 2011; Delsuc, et al., 2011; Harlan, 1825; McNab, 1980; Minoprio, 1945; Serrano-Fochs, et al., 2015; Superina, 2010; Wetzel, 1985)
Nothing is known about the mating system of pink fairy armadillos. Some pairing behavior has been noted in the closely related nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) which may be associated with mating. Males seem to be the ones to monitor the locations of females and to approach first. When they approach a female, the males touch the dorsal area of the female and this touch elicits her tail-wagging. If tail-wagging occurs,the males will approach and sniff the female. It is thought that the proximity the males maintain to the females may be some form of mate guarding. These same behaviors are possible in pink fairy armadillos, which are assumed to be a solitary species similar to nine-banded armadillos. (McDonough, 1997)
Very little is known about reproduction in pink fairy armadillos. It is known that the males have no external testicles and that the females have two nipples. Nine-banded armadillos tend to have large litters however, based on reproductive studies conducted on other armadillo species, pink fairy armadillos most likely have only one or two offspring per year. Most armadillos species have similar low rates of reproduction. In nine-banded armadillos many young females that would be expected to transition from non-reproductive to reproductive in a given year will hold off reproduction for a year or two until they are older however, the reason for this delay has yet to be determined. This delay may also be the case in pink fairy armadillos. (Loughry, et al., 2013; Meritt Jr., 1985; Minoprio, 1945; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992)
Nothing is currently known about parental investment in the pink fairy armadillos. In nine-banded armadillos it appears that the females participate in some level of parental care while the young are still in their burrow. Similar care may occur in pink fairy armadillos as well. (McDonough, 1997)
Since this species is difficult to study, no long term studies have been conducted and therefore the pink armadillos life span in the wild is not known. The longest known life span of this species in captivity is 4 years, but little information is known about the authenticity of this datum. Most animals die a few days after being captured. In nine-banded armadillos, juveniles appear to have a lower chance of survival than the other life stages while reproductive adult females have the greatest chance of survival. (Loughry, et al., 2013; Meritt Jr., 1985; Superina, 2006)
Very little is known about the behavior of pink fairy armadillos, but in harsh conditions they may enter torpor. The thought that they may enter torpor comes from the Kleiber relation between their small body mass and low basal metabolic rate. According to this relation it would be expected that the pink fairy armadillo may enter torpor. It has also been noted that pink fairy armadillos are nocturnal or crepuscular. Since they have only been observed alone, it is thought that they are solitary. (McNab, 1980; Meritt Jr., 1985)
Nothing is currently known about the home ranges of pink fairy armadillos. It has been noted in the closely related nine-banded armadillos that the males, particularly breeding males, have territories and territoriality in males may occur in the pink fairy armadillo. (McDonough, 1997)
Since little is known about this species, their perceptive abilities are currently not known. One unique behavior that was noted in a captive specimen was that whenever anything was changed in its cage, it ran around the cage screaming, which may be some sort of stress response or warning system. A behavior that has been noted in nine-banded armadillos that may or may not be present in pink fairy armadillos is a noise called chucking. This chucking noise seems to be made in various situations so its function is not yet known. (McDonough, 1997; Superina, 2010)
It is not known if pink fairy armadillos consume liquids, but the few that have survived for any length of time in captivity have never been seen drinking, suggesting they may obtain water from their food. The use of metabolic water is an adaptation seen in many desert species. They are generally called insectivores, but they will feed on plants if the right conditions arise. The main food that pink fairy armadillos have been observed eating were ants. While their foraging behaviour is not known, other fossorial species eat insects that they dig out of the ground. Pink fairy armadillos are nocturnal, so they forage for their food at night. (Bourghi, et al., 2011; Minoprio, 1945; Redford, 1985; Superina, 2010)
The main defense against predation in this species is the carapace covering their back. Being semi-fossorial their burrows and tunnels are a refuge from predators. The greatest predators of the pink fairy armadillo are domestic cats and dogs. (Bourghi, et al., 2011)
Nothing is known about the ecosystem roles of pink fairy armadillos, but they may have the same kind of effects on soil cycling that other fossorial species exhibit. The pink fairy armadillo is host to a few parasites, including Pterygodermatites chaetophracti (Nematoda) and Travassosia species (Acantocephala). Most of the endoparasites documented were found in the intestines, while a small number were found in the body cavity. It was thought that the pink fairy armadillo would have more helminth parasites than any other parasite since these parasites are very common in their geographic range. (Navone, 1990)
The local people tend to not pay much attention to the armadillos and do not bother them or feel that they are being bothered by them. (Superina, 2006)
There is legislation that mandates the protection of this species. This mandate could mean that humans would be restricted in their use of the areas where the pink fairy armadillos could be disturbed. (Abba and Superina, 2010)
Until 1996 the pink fairy armadillo was not listed on the IUCN Red List as it was insufficiently studied. In 1996, it was listed as endangered and in 2006 the IUCN listed the pink fairy armadillo as near threatened. The frequency of sightings have declined in past years, starting before 1995. The portion of their range which tends to have the most sightings only has 2 or 3 sightings per year. They are not being killed by the locals as they do not think they do any harm, and therefore do not bother them. They also are not eaten and in the past they were not taken as pets because they do not survive for long in captivity. However, in recent years a black market pet trade has developed, even though they do not survive very long as pets. Since none of the typical causes of population reduction appear to be affecting the pink fairy armadillos, it is suspected that they are being affected by climate change. In 2008 the IUCN changed the listing of pink fairy armadillos to data deficient. Other things that could be effecting the pink fairy armadillo that are not connected to climate change include large scale agriculture, the use of pesticides, large scale livestock farming, and domestic cat and dog predation. Another threat to this species that may or may not be linked to climate change, may come from exotic species moving into the area and out competing them for resources. Species like the pink fairy armadillo are often under-studied because they are not charismatic or from the developed world. There is legislation to protect pink fairy armadillos. (Abba and Superina, 2010; Bourghi, et al., 2011; Novillo and Ojeda, 2008; Roig, 1995; Sitas, et al., 2009; Superina, 2006; Superina, et al., 2014)
The pink fairy armadillo is also called the lesser pink fairy armadillo, and lesser fairy armadillo. The locals call them many names including antiquirquincho, armadillo truncado menor, guargualate, Juan calado, pichiciego, pichihormiguero, and tatu de abrigo. The name in Spanish is pichiciego menor, its name in German is kleiner gurtelmull and its name in French is chlamyphore tronque. Pink fairy armadillos are so rare that the local who is known for having seen the most has only seen 12 in the last 45 years. They have a very low survival rate in captivity (Roig 1971 as cited in Superina 2006) and therefore are not kept as pets or in zoos. Pink fairy armadillos are closely related to the Euphractinae, and fairy armadillos are a sister group to the Tolypeutinae. (Delsuc, et al., 2011; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992; Superina, 2000; Superina, 2006)
Sara Douglas (author), University of Manitoba, Jane Waterman (editor), University of Manitoba, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
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.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
active at dawn and dusk
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
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.
Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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