Screaming Hairy Armadillo, Chaetophractus vellerosus

The screaming hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus vellerosus), also known as the crying armadillo, is a species that is native to southern and central areas of South America. Its range includes areas of Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay, among other areas. It resides in a number of different habitats including tropical and subtropical arid forests, temperate deserts, and arid deserts, however it is not found in any areas with rocky terrain because it cannot construct burrows there. The first recorded description of this armadillo was written by Dr. J. E. Gray in 1865, who used a specimen in the British Museum to assess the species.

The screaming hairy armadillo is one of the smallest members of its genus, Chaetophractus, with males reaching an average body length between 12.9 and 16 inches and females reaching between 10.4 and 16.5 inches. The carapace of this species is more hairy than those of other armadillos, with eighteen bands, of which six to eight are mobile. The species received its name from the screaming noise it emits when it feels threatened.

The screaming hairy armadillo holds home ranges that reach at least 8.4 acres, where it will dig several burrows that consist of one room with multiple entrances. During the winter months, it is active during the day, but during the summer months, it is active during the nighttime. Individuals become sexual mature at nine months of age and female can have two litters per year after a pregnancy period that lasts between sixty and seventy-five days. Like other species of armadillo, the screaming hairy armadillo is an omnivore that feeds mainly on plant matters, insects, and vertebrates, although its diet does vary depending upon the season. It will consume a larger amount of food before the winter in order to gain fat that will sustain it during the harsh season.

The screaming hairy armadillo holds two possible subspecies, but more information is needed before they are listed formally. Hunting proposes the most threat to this species and it is considered a pest in some areas of its range, but the most damaging amount of hunting occurs in Chaco in Bolivia. The species is also threatened by habitat loss, especially along the coast of Buenos Aires Province, Argentina where extensive mining projects occur. Despite these threats, the screaming hairy armadillo appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Screaming Hairy Armadillo. Credit: Arnaud Boucher/Wikipedia