Priodontes maximus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Priodontes maximus
Species Authority: (Kerr, 1792)
Common Name(s):
English Giant Armadillo
Spanish Carachupa Manan, Armadillo Gigante, Cuspon, Tatú Carreta, Tatú Guazú
French Tatou Géant
Priodontes giganteus G. Fischer, 1814

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-10-03
Assessor(s): Anacleto, T.C.S., Miranda, F., Medri, I., Cuellar, E., Abba, A.M. & Superina, M.
Reviewer(s): Loughry, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Superina, M.
Priodontes maximus has a wide area of distribution, but it is rare over its entire range and is very patchily distributed. The species is hunted for meat and is heavily affected by habitat loss. Furthermore, it is sometimes captured to be kept as a pet or to be sold as a “living fossil” on the black market, but it usually does not survive long in captivity. These threats have led to an estimated population decline of at least 30% in the past three generations (around 21 years), and the species has disappeared from large parts of its southern range. Hence, it is listed as Vulnerable.
2010 Vulnerable
2006 Vulnerable
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This largest of all armadillo species 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 subpopulation in southeastern Brazil seems to be very reduced.

This species has disappeared from large parts of its southern range, and possibly from other parts of its range. It 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.
Argentina (Chaco, Formosa, Salta, Santiago del Estero); Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil (Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins); Colombia (Colombia (mainland)); Ecuador (Ecuador (mainland)); French Guiana; Guyana; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of (Venezuela (mainland))
Regionally extinct:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Priodontes maximus appears to be naturally rare where it occurs, with a very patchy distribution. Surveys in Suriname over a 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 in Bolivia (Noss et al. 2004) and 3.36 per 100 km2 using radiotracking in Brazil (Silveira et al. 2009). The wild population is decreasing.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This terrestrial species is found close to water within undisturbed primary rain forest habitats. It excavates burrows, usually in grasslands or open areas of the forest. Nowak (1999) suggested that the species had declined by at least 50% over the previous decade. 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 452 ha (Carter 1985) and up to 10 km² (Silveira et al. 2009) in Brazil. According to Merrett (1983) the gestation period is four months. The females usually give birth to one offspring, but litters of two offspring have also been recorded (Krieg 1929).

There are no direct data to be able to estimate generation length for P. maximus. Based on available scientific information, the generation length for Dasypus novemcinctus has been inferred to be around 5 years. Given its larger size, it is likely that P. maximus reaches sexual maturity a bit later and has a longer lifespan than D. novemcinctus. Therefore, until direct life history data become available, a slightly higher generation length of 7 years is used here for P. maximus.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This armadillo is used as food and is sometimes captured to be kept as a pet, but it usually does not survive long in captivity. The carapace, tail and claws are used locally as cradles, tools and pans, among others (Trujillo and Superina 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Priodontes 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.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Priodontes maximus is listed in Appendix I of CITES. It is present in many protected areas. An education program is being carried out by Fundación Omacha in the llanos of Colombia (Trujillo and Superina 2013). There is a need to decrease hunting pressure, and maintain habitat where viable populations occur.

Bibliography [top]

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Citation: Anacleto, T.C.S., Miranda, F., Medri, I., Cuellar, E., Abba, A.M. & Superina, M. 2014. Priodontes maximus. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 02 September 2015.
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