Giant armadillo
Priodontes maximus

P. maximus ranges from northern Venezuela (east of the Andes) and the Guianas (French Guiana, Guyana, and Suriname) south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Srbek-Araujo et al. (2009) recently confirmed its presence in Espírito Santo, Brazil, although the populations in southeastern Brazil seem to be very reduced. The species may be extinct in Uruguay, and is not listed at all for this country by Fallabrino and Castiñeira (2006). It has been recorded from sea level up to 500 m asl.


This terrestrial species is found close to water within undisturbed primary rain forest habitats. There is ongoing deforestation in the range of this species.


P. maximus excavates burrows, usually in grasslands or open areas of the forest. It appears to be naturally rare where it occurs, with a very patchy distribution. Surveys in Suriname over an 18-year period recorded seven individuals in an area of 650 km2 (Walsh and Gannon, 1967). The density has been estimated to be from 5.77 to 6.28 per 100 km2 using camera trapping (Noss et al., 2004). In 1954, three individuals were found in an area of 16.7 km2 in Espírito Santo, Brazil (Ruschi, 1954). Home range size has been estimated to be at least 450 ha in Brazil (Carter and Encarnação, 1983). Nowak (1999) suggested that the species had declined by at least 50% over the last decade.


P. maximus is threatened by hunting for meat (generally for subsistence) and deforestation of habitat. The illegal capture of giant armadillos for clandestine sale to wealthy animal collectors may also be a threat, but is difficult to quantify.


P. maximus is listed as Vulnerable because, although widespread, it is rare over its entire range.  Estimates for population declines based on habitat loss and hunting are at a level of at least 30% in the past three generations. It has disappeared from large parts of its southern range, and possibly from other portions of its range.
The giant armadillo is listed on Appendix I of CITES. It is present in many protected areas. There is a need to decrease hunting pressure and maintain habitat where viable populations occur.


Additional information and a complete list of references can be found in: Abba, A.M. and M. Superina (2010): The 2009/2010 Armadillo Red List Assessment. Edentata 11(2): 135-184. This article is available here.


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