C. vellersus is distributed in western Bolivia and in northwestern provinces of Argentina in the Monte Desert (Montgomery, 1985).
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Armadillos possess a characteristic protective armor that consists of the shield on the head; a small shield between the ears on the back of the neck; and a carapace that protects the shoulders, back, sides, and rump. The carapace has 6 to 8 movable bands. This species has more hair than most armadillos. The hairs project from between the scales of the body armor, and the limbs and belly are covered with whitish or light brown hairs. The male is generally larger than the female, and both sexes are heavier in the winter due to a thick layer of fat under the skin (Montgomery, 1985; Nowak, 1997).
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Average mass: 840 g.
Average basal metabolic rate: 1.707 W.
The hairy armadillo lives in sloping burrows in desert sand dunes. Chaetophractus avoids summer heat and dessication by being fossorial and nocturnal. In the winter, they are diurnal. Their burrows are insulated against extreme heat because of their depth (Montgomery, 1985).
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; scrub forest
Habitat and Ecology
Chaetophractus vellerosus is omnivorous, feeding on plant material and on insects. Their main source of insects come from the beetle family (Montgomery, 1985).
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 16.2 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Breeding takes place in the autumn. The gestation period is 60 to 75 days and there is more than one litter annually. Litters usually consist of two young, often one male and one female. The young weigh 155 grams at birth, open their eyes after 16 to 30 days, are weaned at 50 to 60 days, and reach sexual maturity at 9 months (Nowak, 1997).
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chaetophractus vellerosus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2010Least Concern
- 2006Least Concern(IUCN 2006)
- 2006Least Concern
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern(Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
These animals may burrow extensively in loose farm soil and damage crops (Montgomery,1985).
Humans frequently eat the hairy armadillo (Montgomery, 1985).
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 15.7 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."
- 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 23.6 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). "Chaetophractus vellerosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
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