Screaming hairy armadillo
The screaming hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus vellerosus) is a species of armadillo also known as the small screaming armadillo, crying armadillo or the small hairy armadillo. It is a burrowing armadillo found in the central and southern parts of South America. The adjective "screaming" derives from its habit of squealing when handled or threatened.
This is one of the smallest and most slender species of the genus Chaetophractus, but it has longer ears than others in its genus. The male armadillo has a length ranging from 328 to 400 mm (12.9 to 16 in) with an average length of 376 mm (14.8 in), while the length of the female ranges from 265 to 419 mm (10.4 to 16.5 in) with an average length of 368 mm (14.5 in). The male weighs between 543 to 1,329 grams (19.2 to 46.9 oz), with an average of 860 grams (30 oz), while the range of weight for the female is 257 to 1,126 grams (9.1 to 39.7 oz), with average weight as 814 grams (28.7 oz).
The animal was initially described by Gray as follows:
"The forehead convex, with many polygonal shields; the dorsal shield covered with abundant elongated bristly hairs; the underside of the body covered with close hairs. Toes 5/5, the outer and inner hinder small."
Two subspecies of Chaetophractus vellerosus are known but taxonomic confirmation is required:
- C. v. vellerosus (Gray, 1865)
- C. v. pannosus (Gardner, 2007)
Range and habitat
The screaming hairy armadillo is a burrowing armadillo of arid areas from low to high altitudes. It is found in parts of the Gran Chaco and Pampas areas of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. An isolated population is found in eastern Buenos Aires Province in Argentina.
Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, temperate shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, temperate grassland, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, hot deserts, temperate desert, arable land, pastureland, and plantations. It is absent in rocky areas where the armadillo would not be able to burrow. The average annual rainfall in its main range is 200 to 600 mm (7.9 to 24 in), while the rainfall averages 1,000 mm (39 in) annually in the area of the Buenos Aires population.
The armadillo is nocturnal by summer and diurnal in winter. It can subsist for long periods without water. It often burrows at the base of bushes and shrubs. It has multiple burrows in its range, and each burrow may have more than one entrance. A burrow may be 8 to 15 in (200 to 380 mm) in diameter and may be several metres long. The home range of an armadillo is recorded to consist of a minimum area of 3.4 ha (8.4 acres). The animal does not build a nest in its burrow which it seals during occupation.
When not in its burrow, the animal spends most of its time foraging. The armadillo is omnivorous; its diet consists of insects, vertebrates and plant material (especially pods of Prosopis), varying considerably depending upon the season. The animals increase their weight by up to 10% in winter, forming a layer of subcutaneous fat 1 to 2 cm (0.39 to 0.79 in) thick. Vertebrates form a significant part of an armadillo's diet, ranging from 27.7% by volume in summer to 13.9% in winter, the most common prey species being lizards, birds, frogs, and the mice species Eligmodontia typus and Phyllotis griseofulvus. This armadillo ingests a lot of sand while feeding, and it may occupy as much as 50% of the volume of its stomach at a time.
The gestation period of the armadillo is 60–75 days. The armadillos become sexually mature at 9 months and produce two litters per year.
This armadillo is heavily hunted for its meat in parts of the Chaco region in Bolivia. It is at times considered an agricultural pest and killed by hunting dogs. The disjunct population of coastal Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, is adversely affected by mining activities. The carapace is particularly sought for making charangos, a South American musical instrument akin to a lute.
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- Gardner, A. L. (2005). "Order Cingulata". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Abba, A.M.; Superina, M. (2009.0). "Chaetophractus vellerosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
- Luaces, JP; Ciuccio M, Rossi LF, Faletti AG, Cetica PD, Casanave EB, Merani MS (2011). "Seasonal changes in ovarian steroid hormone concentrations in the large hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus) and the crying armadillo (Chaetophractus vellerosus)". Theriogenology 75 (5): 796–802. doi:10.1016/j.theriogenology.2010.09.029. PMID 21247625.
- Eisenberg, John Frederick; Redford, Kent Hubbard (1999). Mammals of the Neotropics: The central neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil (illustrated ed.). University of Chicago Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-226-19542-1. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- Gray, Dr J. E. (1865). "Revision of the Genera and Species of Entomophagous Edentata founded on the examination of the specimens in the British Museum". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Zoological Society of London): 376. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
- "Armadillo". Wildlife at Animal Corner. www.animalcorner.co.uk. Retrieved 19 May 2011.