lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

X is for Xenarthra – Armadillos

Xenarthra is a superorder of animals, the word literally means ‘strange joints’ or joints that have unusual articulation, and animals this includes are Folivra (sloths etc.), Pilosa (anteaters etc.) and Angulata (armadillos etc.).

I’m going to do the pink fairy armadillo,  because someone asked me to, on one of my first posts, and the hairy, screaming armadillo, because I have one.

This photo montage of the pink, fairy armadillo is from Gafa Kassim on Flikr:

fairy armadillo

It is a very strange but rather cute little creature, and as you can see, not as big as a hand. It is the smallest of the armadillos, living underground in Argentina, where it digs through soil and backs up with its ‘butt plate’ armour to compact the earth behind. It’s thought it does this to keep its tunnels from caving in.

It has enormous claws for digging compared to its body size, usually making its burrows next to ant colonies, which is handy for when it wants a snack because ants are what it eats.

And under the soil is where it spends most of its time. It only comes to the surface if it meets rock, or for instance the substrate of a road, and can’t go any further, or if if the soil is waterlogged, as it may get cold and wet which could cause illness.

When it does come to the surface at a road and attempt to cross until it can find burrowing soil again, it is often run over, or picked up by humans.

In Science News in 2013 it was reported that Mariella Superina of the CONICET research centre in Mendoza, Argentina had been researching the rate of extinction of the 21 species of armadillos and their close relatives for 10 years, and had never seen pink fairy armadillo in the wild. She said that the natives could track and find anything except this little creature.

The ones that were picked up by humans usually died within about 8 days.

It is thought to be endangered.

The other armadillo, the hairy, screaming armadillo, is bigger, at about 14 inches long. It is also covered in a leathery, armoured shell.

One day last year we were wandering down a street in Bristol during  a festival, and on a stall selling bric a brac, I saw a hairy screaming armadillo. Not long before, I’d researched them and written a poem about them, so I was pretty sure it was one. Not alive of course – its shell, still complete with bristles.

The price was rather high. But I yearned. My dear husband went back and bartered them down – he presented it to me for our anniversary. So now the mortal remains of one poor, hairy, screaming armadillo sits beside my desk; a representation of man’s exploitation of creatures. He was killed to be a curio, a curious ornament. I will take him into schools and show children.

When I got home I compared the shell to pictures and descriptions and counted its segments and it is indeed a hairy, screaming armadillo.

This type of armadillo eats insects, small mammals like mice, frogs and also plants. It lives in hot, dry areas in burrows. They swallow so much sand when they eat, sometimes their stomachs are half full of it.

They have bristles poking out in between the plates of their shell.

If they are threatened, including if a human touches or picks one up, they emit a sharp, high, piercing shriek.

Here is this one’s poem:


Hairy Screaming Armadillo


The screaming, hairy, armadillo –

a bony, bristly, thistly fellow,

with a loud and squeaky bellow,

if you kept one by your pillow,

you’d have a great alarmadillo!


Poem © Liz Brownlee


Here is a little video on YouTube of a hairy screaming armadillo – screaming. It’s quite a good non-aggressive defense mechanism:


All material © Liz Brownlee except where stated.

Facts from Wiki and Wired.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. Love the poem! Funny I drew one today a colorful zentangle. When I put it on my blog I’ll link to this.


  2. The first does sound endangered or at least really good at avoiding humans

    Liked by 1 person

    • It does Pat! I think it must be (very sensibly) humanphobic…


  3. How do I love your poems, let me count the ways…. thistly, bristly …AND…pink armadillos made wonder if you have done pink river dolphins?????


    • No… I haven’t! They are thought to be one of the most intelligent dolphins, i think it’s that one.


  4. That’s got to be one of the strangest creatures I’ve ever seen. I’ll have to come back in the morning and hear the screaming armadillo. If I listen to it now with the kids in bed, it will probably scare them half to death. Cute poem! I’m not sure I’d like that kind of alarmadillo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, neither! The fairy armadillo is truly very odd.


      • I listened to the screaming armadillo today. It cracked me up. I definitely don’t want it for an alarm.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol! I’ve seen several films of them now, they are variously mad-looking or cute, but they all make a noise i’d rather not have to listen to.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have heard of armadillos but never the pink kind or screaming kind. Those poor pink ones, I could tell, right away, they were meant for underground. The screaming one is funny and I love your poem and the new style alarm clock. People who alarm clocks could use that as a wake up call:)


    • There is a video on Youtube of a captive armadillo in a rescue centre having a bath. It is SO cute! I don’t like posting captive animals much, though.


  6. Ula

    Great poem! Those pink fairy armadillos are so cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your post and poem! Being from Texas I kind of think armadillos are rather cute (not that I want one for a pet but they have such sweet faces). Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jessica. I tried to look at your website but it says it’s private…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh! I keep having this problem. It’s to do with the link that comes up. My site is
        It’s not a private site at all, but for some reason, whenever I leave a comment it does this. You actually visited me yesterday and left me a comment about the hay(na)ku. I was returning the visit. 🙂
        I think I may need to contact WordPress and see what’s going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have problems on blogger, found it was a problem with Google and Chrome – it may be that the way your comment is routed, which can variously be through Google, Twitter or just tracks you have made I think in the ether is going through another or older site – the address I used has the word ‘clover’ in it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, that is exactly what I think has been causing it, too. All this technology and they can’t fix bugs like that. Sigh.


      • Forgot to say – I always put my address in my comment and explain unless that is used Blogger people will be directed to my Blogger site that only exists to let me comment on blogger blogs!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I will have to start doing that, too. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. allisonwrites93

    Such strange looking animals! I love that you own a former armadillo – that reminds me of David Sedaris wanting taxidermy owls for his anniversaries.

    – Allison

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I really like your theme, i will be back to check for more. Such a cute animal but I too prefer them to run wild and free. Lovely thoughts and poem too! You should have put a picture of the one on your desk.

    Liked by 1 person

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