A powerful digger (3), the large hairy armadillo either builds simple burrows for temporary shelter or more complex branching burrows where it resides for longer periods (4). Activity usually commences at dusk and continues throughout the night, although some daytime activity may also occur in some areas (5). A variety of prey is taken, in particular, subterranean invertebrates, which are located by smell and exposed by shovelling soil away using the head and powerful fore claws (3) (5).
When threatened, the large hairy armadillo will run towards the nearest hole, or attempt to burrow into the ground. If, however, it is unable to escape, this species will draw up its feet, so that the bottom of the shell is level with the ground. When pursued into its burrow, the large hairy armadillo will wedge itself tightly against the walls, by bending its back and thrusting out its feet (3). While underground, this species is able to make use of the small amounts of oxygen trapped between soil particles; small skin folds act as a filter to prevent soil from being inhaled into the lungs (6).
Although the large hairy armadillo is likely to breed during late winter/early spring in the wild (3) (5), most information about its reproductive biology currently comes from observations of captive animals (4). In captive conditions, this species breeds all year round and can have up to three litters per year (7). After a gestation period of 60 to 75 days, the female usually gives birth to two young, which are suckled for a further 50 to 60 days (3) (4). The large hairy armadillo reaches sexual maturity at around nine months old, and has been known to live for over 23 years in captivity (3).