The Virginia Zoo has a new addition, a baby Screaming Hairy Armadillo! The little guy was born on August 18 to parents ‘Savanna’ and ‘Chaco’.
The armadillo parents, Savanna and Chaco, serve a dual purpose at the Virginia Zoo. They're a breeding pair, but they're also part of the Program Animal collection. They are used for education and special animal encounters. It will be a while before the new baby makes his public debut, but he will mostly likely join his parents as an Animal Ambassador once he's all grown up.
The Screaming Hairy Armadillo is native to central, southern South America, specifically the Chaco region of Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. They are omnivores and thrive in tropical and subtropical dry forests, grasslands, savannas, scrublands, pastures, sandy soils, and deserts, where they can burrow. The Screaming Hairy Armadillo is distinguished from other species of armadillos by its long, wiry hairs sticking out through its hard shell and over its body, making it more hairy than most armadillos. One of the smallest of their genus, Chaetophractus, the adjective “screaming” comes from their squeal-like response to being threatened or bothered.
Although, they are classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, this armadillo is heavily hunted for its meat in parts of the Chaco region in Bolivia. It is at times considered an agricultural pest and killed by hunting dogs. The disjunctive population, of coastal Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, is adversely affected by mining activities. The carapace is particularly sought for making ‘charangos’, a South American musical instrument akin to a lute.