Screaming Hairy Armadillo

Screaming Hairy Armadillo
Screaming Hairy Armadillo[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Cingulata
Family: Dasypodidae
Genus: Chaetophractus
Species: C. vellerosus
Binomial name
Chaetophractus vellerosus
(Gray, 1865)
Screaming Hairy Armadillo range

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.[3][4] It is a burrowing armadillo found in the central and southern parts of South America.[2] The adjective "screaming" derives from its habit of squealing when handled or threatened.[4]



The animal was first described by Dr J. E. Gray in 1865 from a specimen in the British Museum collected from Santa Cruz de la Sierra in eastern Bolivia as "Dasypus vellerosus".[5]


Image of Screaming Hairy Armadillo by Joseph Wolf provided in its first description by Edward Gray in 1865.

This is one of the smallest and slenderest of the genus Chaetophractus but has longer ears than others in its genus. The male armadillo has a length ranging from 328 to 400 millimetres (12.9 to 16 in) with an average length of 376 millimetres (14.8 in) while the length of the female ranges from 265 to 419 millimetres (10.4 to 16.5 in) with an average length of 368 millimetres (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).[4]

The animal was initially described by Gray as follows:[5]
"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."

These armadillos have more hair growth than other armadillo species. The armadillo has 18 bands of which six to eight are movable bands.[6] The hair on the dorsum is light brown in colour.[4]


Two subspecies are known but taxonomic confirmation is required:[2]

  • Chaetophractus vellerosus vellerosus (Gray, 1865)
  • Chaetophractus vellerosus pannosus (Gardner, 2007)

Range and habitat

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo is a burrowing armadillo of arid areas from low to high altitudes.[4] 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.[2] 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 millimetres (7.9 to 24 in) while the rainfall averages 1,000 millimetres (39 in) annually in the area of the Buenos Aires population.[4]


The armadillo is nocturnal by summer and diurnal in winter. It can subsist for long periods without water. The armadillo burrows, often 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 inches (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.[4]


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 sub-cutaneous 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. The armadillos ingest a lot of sand while feeding, and it may occupy as much as 50% of the volume of the stomach at a time.[4]


The gestation period of the armadillo is 60 – 75 days. The armadillos become sexually mature at 9 months and produce two litters per year.[6]

Human interaction

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.[2]


  1. ^ Gardner, Alfred L. (16 November 2005). "Order Cingulata (pp. 94-99)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  3. ^ 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. PMID 21247625. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h 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 9780226195421. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b 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. 
  6. ^ a b "Armadillo". Wildlife at Animal Corner. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 

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