Scientists document baby giant armadillo for first time
by Jeremy Hance
Despite weighing as much as full-grown human, almost nothing is known about the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) including its breeding and reproductive behaviors. How does mating occur? How long does pregnancy last? How many babes are typically born? Scientists are simply in the dark, but a ground-breaking study employing camera traps is beginning to change this. For the first time, scientists in the Brazilian Pantanal have documented giant armadillo breeding and the happy outcome: a baby giant armadillo (see video and more photos below).
“Being part of this exclusive moment in the history of this species conservation and seeing the first picture of a baby giant armadillo was one of the most exciting moments of my career as a wildlife professional,” said Danilo Kluyber, a wildlife veterinarian with The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project.
Although by far the world’s biggest armadillo—weighing around 110 pounds(50 kilograms)—the giant armadillo’s rarity along with its nocturnal and burrowing lifestyle has meant it has long eluded the gaze of science. In fact in some parts of its range the giant armadillo is considered more myth than substance. The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project, which began in 2010, however is slowly but surely bringing light to the massive mammal.
(photos: Kevin Schafer/The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project)