In a world first, a team of Brazilian researchers, supported by Taronga have registered the mating and birth of South America’s most cryptic species, the Giant Armadillo.
Giant Armadillos are one of the rarest and least known large mammals of the Neotropics. Until this study no data had previously existed on this species’ reproduction which is key in protecting this remarkable animal for the future.
Read about the events that lead to scientists getting the very first vision of a baby Giant Armadillo below.
July 2010: The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project is established. This is the first long-term ecological study of Giant Armadillos. The main goal of the project is to investigate this cryptic animal’s biology and their relationship with their environment using radio transmitters, camera traps, burrow surveys, resource monitoring, mapping and interviews with local village people.
June 2011: For the first time, a female Giant Armadillo is seen sharing a burrow with an adult male. They remained together for a couple of days. Never before had two Giant Armadillos been recorded coupling or in such close proximity.
The adult female continued to be monitored, but after a few days, the adult male disappeared from the area. The female resumed her regular behaviour which included feeding and regularly changing burrows.
January 2012: An adult male began sporadically appearing in camera-trap photos and visiting old burrows that the female had left vacant.
Early November 2012:
“Suddenly, almost exactly five months after being seen with the male, the female began to re-use the same burrow for over 30 days. Although she left the burrow at night to forage, she always returned to the same burrow. It was only after three weeks that our camera-traps took a picture of the nose of the baby Giant Armadillo reaching out to its mother as she returned to the burrow. The first picture of the baby giant armadillo was taken four weeks after its estimated birth and we registered it as it changed burrows and accompanied its mother for the first time to another burrow 200 meters away.” Arnaud Desbiez, Project Coordinator
“Seeing the first picture of a baby giant armadillo was one of the most exciting moments of my career as a wildlife professional.” Danilo Kluyber, Project Veterinarian