A peek into our collections, one object at a time

The Elusive Furry Pink Fairy Armadillo

August 1, 2019
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Armadillo with a pink shell back and furry body.
Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals

Although this guy looks quite large, the pink fairy armadillo only grows to about 6 inches long. Found only in central Argentina, this is the smallest armadillo species in the world.

Like other armadillos, pink fairy armadillos have a shell (carapace), but it’s softer, thinner and more flexible and  covers about half their body. The shell’s pink color comes from all the blood vessels close to its surface. The armadillos’ fur helps them keep warm as they have low body temperatures and low metabolic rates.

Pink fairy armadillos are elusive and rarely seen—they are nocturnal, spending much time burrowing underground, and as a result, not much is known about their behavior and biology. Because they are elusive and can’t survive outside of their habitat, they are difficult to study.

For more about the pink fairy armadillo, see the Encyclopedia of Life. To learn about the armadillos at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, see the la plata three banded armadillo and the screaming hairy armadillo.