Southern long-nosed armadillo (Dasypus hybridus)

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Southern long-nosed armadillo
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Southern long-nosed armadillo fact file

Southern long-nosed armadillo description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCingulata
FamilyDasypodidae
GenusDasypus (1)

As its common name suggests, the southern long-nosed armadillo has a distinctive, elongated snout, which helps it to seek out food as it forages over the ground (3). Like all armadillos, the body and head of this species are extensively armoured with thick bony plates, which provide protection from predators and damage from thorny vegetation (4). The plates form a broad, rounded shell on the body, which is brownish-grey with scattered yellow hairs projecting from it, while the soft underparts are greyish-pink (5). The central portion of the southern long-nosed armadillo’s body shell is divided by seven bands of skin that provide flexibility to the otherwise rigid upperparts (4) (5). The legs are short and end in five-toed hind feet and four-toed forefeet, the latter bearing two especially large, middle toes with powerful claws to assist digging (3).

Spanish
Mulita, Mulita Pampeana.
Size
Length: 39.7 – 49.8 cm (2)
Weight
1.09 – 2.04 kg (2)
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Southern long-nosed armadillo biology

A generally solitary species, the southern long-nosed armadillo’s activity period appears to vary according to external factors, such as season, temperature and hunting pressure. For example in protected areas, this species may be active during the day, while in some areas where it is hunted, it appears to only emerge at dusk (6). After emerging from its underground burrow, the southern long-nosed armadillo commences foraging, shuffling along the ground, emitting snuffles and grunts, as it attempts to locate food with its excellent sense of smell (2) (3) (5). Indeed, it has been reported by hunters of this species that it may be so engrossed in its search that when standing still, the southern long-nosed armadillo may sometimes bump into their legs. When alarmed however, this species will run towards the nearest burrow or, if one is not accessible, will pull in its extremities and curl its body to protect its vulnerable underparts (4). The southern long-nosed armadillo mainly feeds upon invertebrates, which it locates by digging shallow holes or, in the case of ants and termites, by tearing open mounds with its powerful foreclaws (5).

Breeding is seasonal, commencing around March (6), with most births taking place in October (5). Like other armadillos in the genus Dasypus, the southern long-nosed armadillo exhibits a remarkable reproductive trait known as obligate polyembryony, which means that it always produces a set of genetically identical offspring (3). This remarkable litter of usually eight to twelve, same-sex clones (6) occurs because the female produces only a single egg, which after fertilisation divides into separate embryos (3). Dasypus species armadillos are the only vertebrates known to exhibit this trait, which is believed to be an adaptation to overcome a restriction in the female’s reproductive system in which there is only space for one egg prior to implantation in the womb (3). After birth, the litter is raised in a chamber at the end of a long burrow, which is lined with dried grass (2).

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Southern long-nosed armadillo range

The southern long-nosed armadillo inhabits southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina, as far south as the province of Buenos Aires (1).

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Southern long-nosed armadillo habitat

The southern long-nosed armadillo is most commonly found in open habitats, in particular the expansive grassy plains of northern and central Argentina, although it possibly also occurs in woodland and forest habitats (1) (2).

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Southern long-nosed armadillo status

The southern long-nosed armadillo is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened

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Southern long-nosed armadillo threats

Although it is not classified as globally threatened, the southern long-nosed armadillo has, nevertheless, suffered a marked decline of between 20 and 25 percent over the past 10 years. The main cause of this decrease has been severe habitat loss due to urban and agricultural expansion, and widespread hunting for food (1). While there are currently some areas in which the southern long-nosed armadillo is relatively abundant, in many other locations it is significantly under threat and some local populations have even been driven to extinction (1) (2).

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Southern long-nosed armadillo conservation

There are no specific conservation measures in place for the southern long-nosed armadillo. This species is only recorded at two small, poorly-managed protected areas at the periphery of its range. Expansion of the protected area network, so that it includes core areas of the southern long-nosed armadillo’s distribution, is therefore vital to limit further decline (1).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

To learn more about conservation initiatives within the southern long-nosed armadillo’s range visit:

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Authentication

Authenticated (04/09/2009) by Dr. Mariella Superina, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Anteaters, Sloths and Armadillos Specialist Group.
http://www.xenarthrans.org/

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Glossary

Invertebrates
Animals with no backbone.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. González, E.M., Soutullo, A. and Altuna, C.A. (2001) The burrow of Dasypus hybridus (Cingulata: Dasypodidae). Acta Theriologica, 46: 53 - 59.
  3. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  5. Eisenberg, J.F. and Redford, K.H. (1999) Mammals of the Neotropics: The central neotropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  6. Superina, M. (2000) Biologie und Haltung von Gürteltieren (Dasypodidae). [Biology and maintenance of armadillos (Dasypodidae)]. Doctoral Thesis. Institut für Zoo-, Heim- und Wildtiere, Universität Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
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Image credit

Southern long-nosed armadillo  
Southern long-nosed armadillo

© Yves Bilat / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

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