Greater Fairy Armadillo, Calyptophractus retusus

The greater fairy armadillo (Calyptophractus retusus), also known as the Chacoan fairy armadillo or Burmeister’s armadillo, is a species of armadillo that can be found in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. It prefers to reside in tropical or subtropical arid grasslands or shrublands. This species is small, reaching an average body length between 5.5 and 6.9 inches and a weight of up to 2.2 pounds. As is common to armadillo species, it holds bands of armor along its upper back, but these are attached to its body at the spine and pelvis. The underbelly holds wooly hair and both the front and back feet have sharp claws that are used for burrowing.

There is little known about the behavior of the greater fairy armadillo, but it is known to be an expert at burrowing. It spends most of the daytime hours in a burrow and can quickly cover itself with soil if threatened. This species consumes roots seeds, worms, insect larvae, and snails. It is thought that after breeding, the egg remains in the uterus for a few months before it is fertilized. The pregnancy period is thought to be around four months, as is typical to armadillo species, after which time up to four babies can be born. The babies can move a few hours after birth, but their armor will not develop until a few weeks after birth, at which time they are weaned. Sexual maturity occurs between six months and one year of age.

The greater fairy armadillo was once listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss, which still threatens it today. Its distribution is fragmented and it is thought to be a bad omen in some areas of its range, but it does occur in some protected areas. Currently, this species is listed on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Data Deficient.”

Image Caption: Holotype of Calyptophractus retusus published by Hermann Burmeister. Credit: Hermann Burmeister/Wikipedia