The giant armadillo, scientifically known as Priodontes maximus or Priodontes giganteus is the largest of all the member of armadillo family. Earlier Glyptodonts, an extinct member of this family, was considered to be the largest. It lives in tropical rainforests in South America, near termite mounds. It was once widespread in the tropical forests and grasslands east of the Andes, from Venezuela to Argentina.
Giant armadillos are easily distinguishable from other armadillo’s by their huge size. They belong to the oldest group of mammals. Their skin is replaced with a tough shell, which is covered with horny scales. They possess hinge bands (14-16 in numbers) to protect their body; that is the main reason for their survival. Body is dark brown in color with a pale yellowish-white head. Number of teeth counts to nearly 100, which is more than any other mammal. They can weigh up to 26 kg, average weight is 20 kg. They reach a typical length of about 90 cm. 40% of their body weight is accounted by their heavy tail.
They primarily feed on termites and certain ants. They have the ability to consume a whole termite mound population once discovered. They are also known for their burrowing techniques. When a termite mound has been eradicated, they will bury themselves in the remains and rest there before moving on. It is believed that the giant armadillo is also a good swimmer. Nothing is still predictive about their reproductive and social behavior.
The giant armadillo was classified as Extremely Endangered (EN) on the World Conservation Union’s Red List in 2002, and is listed under Appendix I, means threatened with extinction, of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. The main reason behind this is hunting and the loss of its habitat to human settlement and agriculture.