The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest member of the armadillo family, measuring only about five to six inches in length. It is also the only armadillo in which the dorsal shell is almost separate from the body. Baby armadillos resemble their parents, but their shells do not completely harden until they are fully grown.
These armadillos prefer to burrow in very dry soil. They leave their burrows if it is moistened by rainfall. They often burrow near anthills so that they can be close to their food source. The pink fairy armadillo generally lives by itself. The animals stay in their burrows during the day and feed at night. They are remarkable diggers.
When you first see one, you may think it cannot really be an armadillo because it is so tiny. The smallest of the species at about 3.5 to 4.5 inches in length, it weighs only about 4.2 ounces. It has a long tail and is pink in color, which makes it very unique. The shell is very thick and is covered with fur on the underside.
This animal is native to Argentina and is mainly found in grassland areas or regions where there are cacti or thorny bushes. If you come upon it very quickly, it will become frightened and bury itself in a matter of seconds. It lives in burrows in the ground, which are usually located quite close to ant colonies, because they are its main food. It does however, also eat plants and root material, small worms and snails, as well as insects.
The pink armadillo spends most of its time underground. It has long front claws that allow it to move the sand in its path, very much like it is swimming, which is why it has been called a sand swimmer.
The pink armadillo is shaped somewhat like a torpedo and the shielded head protects it from the dirt and sand as it makes its progress under the earth. When it is inside its burrow, it also has the ability to close the entrance by using the armor plates on its body as a cork.
In addition to its small size, one can easily distinguish the pink fairy armadillo from other species of this group of animals by its dorsal shell. It is the only armadillo that has a dorsal shell that is completely separated from its body. The shell covers the head but does not extend to the rear of the body.
The pink fairy armadillo has a pointed nose and small eyes and ears. Since it is not able to lift the tail, it drags it along the ground. These are nocturnal and solitary animals until they find a mate, which they stay with for life. The female gives birth to only one pup at a time and the shell on the young does not become hard until they are fully mature.