We currently have one large hairy armadillo that is part of our presentations team.
The large hairy armadillo is on show in our Sloths and Armadillos building.
In the wild, the large hairy armadillo is one of the most abundant species of armadillo in South America and can be found in grasslands, forests and savannahs. They are found in regions of Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina and Eastern Chile.
The armadillo's head and body are covered with protective bony plates. The plates on its back are flexible although they do provide a very protective coating against their natural predators. This species are more hairy than other armadillo species with its underside densely covered in hair, which project from their bony plates. They also have powerful front claws for foraging and avoiding predators.
They also have a specialised respiratory system which allows it to breathe the air that fills the space between the soil particles when completely covered in soil, without inhaling the soil itself.
This species can reach anywhere between 260mm and 340mm in length when fully mature. As with other armadillo species the large hairy armadillo tends to be most active from dusk through the night. Breeding usually occurs in late winter or early spring, with a gestation period of 60 - 75 days, the female will give birth to one or two young.
This animal is routinely harvested for its meat and its shell, or even for pestering farmers, however it has shown amazing resiliency.
The large hairy armadillo at Edinburgh Zoo help us to tell our visitors about the conservation work RZSS is involved in. For example the giant armadillo conservation project is core funded by RZSS and established the first long term ecological study of giant armadillos in the Pantanal wetland. Find out more about the giant armadillo conservation project...
The giant armadillo is the largest of the armadillo species. Due to its cryptic behaviour and low population densities, almost nothing is known about this endangered species. This project is successfully establishing the first long-term ecological study on this species in the Pantanal, using radio transmitters, camera traps, burrow surveys, resource monitoring, resource mapping and interviews.
As a result of the projects success it is now expanding into other regions including the Cerrado, where the team are also studying giant anteaters.