The endangered giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is the largest of its species family. These little giants can be found in many South American countries, from Venezuela to Paraguay. However, most reside in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands.
While perhaps not the cutest of armadillos, this little giant has some extreme digging abilities. Because it cannot roll into a ball for protection like its smaller siblings, the giant armadillo possesses long claws on its front legs. In the face of danger, it can quickly drill into the ground to escape any threat. These same claws can dig for termites, worms, spiders, and other insects. The giant armadillo is a nocturnally active animal, meaning it feeds at night.
In addition to about thirteen moveable bony plates covering its back, up to four flexible bands make up the giant’s neck. While the animal’s body is dark brown, blending easily into the earth, the bottom of its shell is almost whitish. Just the giant’s tail is about 50 inches, giving its body a total length of up to 150 cm. As for how heavy the big guy is? With all that armor, you’re looking at up to 50 kilos.
The giant armadillo isn’t exactly social. In fact, almost nothing is known about these not-so-friendly giants. The giant armadillo classifies as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Giant armadillos live anywhere from 12 to 15 years. But hunting, human settlement, and agricultural development have brought down their population significantly. While national laws protect the animal, many populations still hunt giant armadillos for food. Finally, ongoing deforestation for the construction of homes and farms destroys their natural habitat.
The preservation of national parks and nature reserves is essential to the giant armadillo’s survival.