Stranger Things: Meet the pink fairy armadillo

Side view of armadillo on sandy ground

It’s the smallest armadillo species in the world, and arguably the cutest. About the size of a dollar bill, the pink fairy armadillo is a nocturnal creature from central Argentina. It isn’t actually a fairy, but it may be just as hard to study: It spends most of its life underground, and sightings in the wild are so rare that one armadillo researcher worked in its habitat for 13 years without ever coming across one. As a result, scientists know little about its population size or trends.


Chlamyphorus truncatus

RANGE Central Argentina
SIZE Up to six inches
DIET Omnivorous (primarily invertebrates like ants; also plants)
HABITAT Desert, shrubland

Pink Fairy Armadillo
    This thin, flexible shell isn’t primarily for protection, but for temperature regulation. It contains blood vessels that empty or fill to control the animal’s body temperature—and give it its rosy hue.
  2. FEET
    The armadillo has relatively large feet, with outsize front claws that are ideal for burrowing. Using these, it can bury itself in seconds.
  3. FUR
    If its soft, white fur gets wet, the armadillo can have a hard time regulating its body temperature.
  4. TAIL
    A tail and butt plate help with balance and prevent the armadillo’s tunnels from collapsing around it.


When pink fairy armadillos are seen in the wild, they are usually alone, leading scientists to believe they are solitary creatures.


Removing a pink fairy armadillo from its home almost always proves fatal to the animal. Roughly 95% die within eight days of being taken from their habitat. Because they are so elusive, researchers must draw conclusions about behavior from the few that do survive in captivity.

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