Giant Armadillo

The largest of its family, the giant armadillo may weigh up to 132 lb (60 kg). It is nocturnal and shelters by day in burrows dug with the mighty claws on its forefeet. Most of the burrows are dug into the side of termite mounds. Giant armadillos also dig to get at their prey. They typically excavate termite mounds and ant nests, but they also dig out worms, subterranean spiders and occasionally snakes.

It may have as many as 100 small teeth, but these are gradually shed with age. The claws on its forefeet are particularly long - those on the third digits measuring up to 734 in (20 cm). A fairly agile animal, the giant armadillo can support itself on its hind legs and tail, while digging or smashing a termite mound with its powerful forelimbs.

Like all armadillos, the giant armadillo has bands of bony plates running from side to side across its body to serve as armour. These plates are covered in leathery skin, and a few thick hairs stick out from between them.

Unlike many other armadillos, giant armadillos cannot curl up completely to protect their soft undersides with their armoured upper bodies. Instead, these giants rely on their considerable size to deter predators. If they are attacked, giant armadillos try to dig themselves out of trouble.

Armadillos live alone. They breed all year round, and mate when they chance upon the opposite sex during their travels. One or two young are born in a large burrow after a four-month gestation.

Distribution: Venezuela to northern Argentina.

Habitat: Dense forest.

Food: Termites, ants, spiders and other insects, worms, snakes and carrion.

Size: 0.7 - 1 m (2.25 - 3.25 ft); 60 kg (132 lb).

Maturity: 1 year.

Breeding: 1 - 2 young born throughout the year.

Life span: 15 years.

Status: Vulnerable.