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What is a pink fairy armadillo? © Getty Images

What is a pink fairy armadillo?

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Silky white fur, pink armour and hard to see, these almost mythical-like creatures are declining in the wild.

The pink fairy armadillo is mostly an apt name. After all, this is a species that spends most of its time in a subterranean neverland and whose pink armour, sitting atop silky white fur, gives it an almost magical charm. However, it also has some rather unfairy-like qualities. Fairies, for instance, do not have robust digging claws. And fairies do not use their enormous bottoms to firm up the soil as they dig to strengthen the walls of their tunnels.


This species of armadillo is found only in the deserts and scrublands of central Argentina. To limit the likelihood of heat exhaustion during the warm season, it uses its leathery shell as a cooling aid. By pumping this thin layer of armour with blood, the pink fairy armadillo can flush away heat from its body’s core. This is an organism that doesn’t spare its blushes. It depends upon them for survival.

Like all fairies, the pink armadillo is hard to see. The only time these animals surface is when heavy rain forces them out of their burrows, often into the mouths of introduced predators such as domestic cats and dogs. The species is likely to be declining in the wild, so this is one fairy that’s in need of a godmother.

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Jules Howard is a zoology correspondent, naturalist and author of more than 10 books including The Wildlife Pond Handbook. He writes for a number of publications including The Guardian, Science Focus and BBC Wildlife Magazine.


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