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Facts About Pygmy Armadillos

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The pygmy armadillo (Zaedyus pichiy) is more commonly known as the dwarf armadillo or pichi. The 20 existing species of armadillo can all be grouped into one of eight genera; the pygmy armadillo is the only member of the Zaedyus genus.

Physical Description

As the name suggests, pygmy armadillos are a small species of armadillo. Their head and body measures between 10 and 13 inches, while their tail measures a further 4 to 5 inches. Their bodies are covered in dark brown bony plates, which act as a protective armor. These plates have white edges, and black, yellow and white hairs stick up between them. Their tails are also armored and are usually yellow or white.

Range and Habitat

Pygmy armadillos are only found in South America, in areas of Argentina and Chile. They live in dry grasslands, shrublands, deserts and other arid regions. They tend to reside in areas where there is sandy soil. They make burrows in the ground in which they can seek shelter and protection, and sandy soil is ideal for burrowing in.


Pygmy armadillos are mostly nocturnal, although they may show some activity during the day. They're generally solitary and will only come together when it's time to mate. In some localities, these creatures have been known to hibernate during the colder months. They mostly feed on insects, worms and some plant foods, such as roots and tubers. However, they'll also consume carrion and some kinds of lizards and rodents.

Population and Threats

Although there are no precise figures on the current population of pygmy armadillos, the International Union for Conservation of Nature believes their population may have declined by 20 percent in the last 10 years. They're listed as "near threatened" on The IUCN Red List. The main threat to their numbers comes from humans, who hunt them for sport and food. However, their numbers have also declined due to an epidemic of an unknown disease, which seems to prevail during the rainy season.