Pink Fairy Armadillo

The Pink Fairy Armadillo is the smallest species of armadillo, characterized by small eyes, silky yellowish white fur, a flexible pink dorsal shell that is attached to its body by a thin dorsal membrane, and a tail that stick out from a vertical plate at the rear of the shell. They can grow up to 3.5-4.5 inches long and weigh up to 4.2 ounces. These armadillos also have large forearms that house their large claws they use for digging and are one of the few mammals that does not have visible ears. Currently, there is not as much known about pink fairy armadillos as there is known about the rest of the armadillo family. We do know, however, that they are subterranean and extremely sensitive to environmental changes and stress. These sudden environmental changes could be temperature and soil quality and other physical changes. Because of this sensitivity, they have to live in places that are undisturbed and contain enough compact sand and hiding places. They are a subterranean armadillo and this type of environment is important for this lifestyle.

No Pink Fairy Armadillo currently listed for placement

They have a few characteristics that protect them from changes that could threaten them. They have fine hair that helps them keep a stable temperature. This is helpful, as the night temperatures can get very low.  Armadillos are also known for their leathery shells that cover most of the top of the animal, though the shell of the pink fairy armadillo is notably softer and more flexible. This shell is thought to help with temperature control as well as protection from threats, as the underlying blood vessels are very close to the surface of the shell. Their shell can also help them compress dirt while digging and prevent tunnel collapses. 
This armadillo lives in the sandy plains, dunes, and grasslands of central Argentina. They are adapted to this sandy environment and the amount of sand and dirt is vital to their burrowing lifestyle. This small range is the critical habitat for these animals because of their sensitivity to environmental changes and adaptation to the desert habitat. If moved out of this environment, they will last for a very short amount of time, likely only a few days. Even in unnatural habitats that mimic these conditions, they do not last long.

 

Behavior 
Pink fairy armadillos are nocturnal, burrowing, and solitary. It uses its two sets of large claws on its front legs and hind legs to dig in the compacted sand and earth. Because of the speed at which it burrows, it has been nicknamed the “sand swimmer” as it can dig through the ground as fast as a fish can swim through the sea. Relative to the size of this animal, the claws are very large. This size makes it difficult for the animal to walk on a hard surface. Along with these traits, the small eyes make it difficult to see and it finds its way through its environment through its sense of touch and hearing. They use their torpedo-shaped body and hairless tail to reduce the amount of drag they have while burrowing as well as for balance and stability. Like most other armadillos, they rely on their sense of smell to find each other and to find their prey. Their prey is comprised mainly of insects, worms, snails, and various plant parts. In captivity, the pink fairy armadillo will accept foods such as watermelon, avocado shells, and Mazuri Insectivore Diet, however, they are hardly ever in captivity.
 

Conservation
Because of the limited information, the conservation status is not completely known, however, their population has been on the decline. This decline is generally thought to be caused by faming activities and predators, which include domestic cats and dogs. Because of its burrowing lifestyle, the animal is forced to leave its tunnel when it rains due to the threat of drowning and wetting its fur and possibly suffering from hypothermia. Once it is above ground, it can be hunted by predators, specifically these dogs and cats. These armadillos are not as common as they were a few decades ago and the times people have seen them have 
been few and far between. These rare armadillos that are caught and placed in captivity rarely last longer than a few days. In fact, many do not even last through the transportation from their natural habitat. In spite of this fact, many of these armadillos are illegally sold on the black market and often as pets. An even more broad threat to these armadillos is climate change, as a colder temperature could wipe out the species because of their environmental sensitivity. Loss of habitat is also a big threat for these animals. Much of their range of habitat is being converted to farmland and the burrows are getting plowed over and the land is no longer able to be lived in. These farmlands use pesticides that get rid of the ants and other insects that these animals eat.


Because of their unique qualities, restricted range, threats, and rarity, there is an urgent need for conservation efforts for this species of armadillo. In 2006, they were put on the near-threatened category list and sightings have become more rare, though it is already difficult to find them due to their nocturnal and burrowing lifestyle. Because of their susceptibility to stress, it is even more difficult to study them and the attempts to apply conservation efforts have been unsuccessful and very difficult. By making any change in their environment, temperature, or diet, you could trigger their stress response. This stress response is a possible reason why so many attempts at captivity fail. When it comes to a difficult animal to help out, pink fairy armadillos take the cake. Impossible to keep in a safe enclosure and nearly impossible to even see or study, there is much we will not be able to do for these creatures. This does not stop us from trying and attempts are still being made to conserve this unique species of armadillo.

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