Species at a glance:The Pink Fairy Armadillo

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The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncates) is a poorly known species of armadillo found in the sandy plains of Argentina. Like other armadillos the pink fairy inhabits burrows underground and is adept at digging in order to build these. The smallest of the armadillo species and measuring only 5-6 inches in length, pink fairy’s prefer to build their burrows in dry soil and will move if their burrow becomes moistened with rainwater. This is thought to relate to the danger of catching hypothermia when fur gets damp.

 Biology

 The pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature, staying within its burrow in the day and coming out to feed at night. Prey items consist of termites and other insects, along with vegetation and small animals. Armadillos are able to locate their prey using a keen sense of smell. Burrows are often built near ant nests so that the armadillo is close to a source of food.

 In order to protect themselves, armadillos possess a coat of armour consisting of tough scales derived from skin tissue. This is called a carapace. In the case of the pink fairy, the rear of the carapace is truncated and the species uses this as a defence mechanism- retreating to their burrow when threatening and plugging the entrance of the burrow with the rear end of their carapace. They are also able to curl up into a ball in order to protect their vulnerable underparts.

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 Baby armadillos look like their parents but their shells do not harden until they are fully grown.

 Threats and conservation

The Pink fairy armadillo is currently classed as data deficient by the IUCN, as little is known about its ecology or population status. The species is known to be threatened by a combination of predation by domestic cats and dogs, habitat conversion due to agriculture and the illegal pet trade. Pink fairy’s have a poor survival rate in captivity, usually dying around 8 days after being removed from the wild. The pink fairy armadillo is present in a number of protected areas including Lihué Calel National Park in La Pampa and some provincial protected areas in Mendoza. Further research is needed in order to inform future conservation action.

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Jess Webster

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