Zaedyus pichiy


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Zaedyus pichiy
Species Authority: (Desmarest, 1804)
Common Name(s):
English Pichi
Spanish Piche
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are described but require confirmation: Z. p. pichiy and Z. p. caurinus (Gardner 2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2013-12-04
Assessor(s): Superina, M. & Abba, A.M.
Reviewer(s): Loughry, J.
Contributor(s): Roig, V.G., Iriarte Walton, A. & Arriagada, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Superina, M.
Zaedyus pichiy is listed as Near Threatened as, although widespread and present in a number of protected areas, it is hunted significantly, especially in northern and eastern portions of its range, with local extinctions recorded in some areas; there is little known about the declines in the southern part of its range. It is thought likely that this species almost qualifies for a threatened category under criterion A2d due to ongoing exploitation levels, which have led to a decline in the order of 20% over three generations (suspected to be around 12 years).
2010 Near Threatened
2006 Near Threatened
1996 Data Deficient

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This small armadillo ranges from Argentina (San Juan and La Rioja) and eastern Chile south to the Straits of Magellan. It is found from sea level to 2,500 m Asl.
Argentina (Buenos Aires, Chubut, Córdoba, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Neuquén, Rio Negro, San Juan, San Luis, Santa Cruz); Chile (Aisén, Biobío, Coquimbo, La Araucania, Los Lagos, Magellanes, Maule, O'Higgins, Santiago, Valparaíso)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Zaedyus pichiy is not abundant in southern Buenos Aires Province (Abba and Vizcaíno 2011), and its abundance has declined in Mendoza Province over the last 15 years (Superina 2008). No population data are available from other parts of its range, but as it is hunted throughout its range, its global population trend is declining.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This solitary species is found in desert, xeric grassland and shrubland, and Patagonian steppe habitats, always with sandy soils (including volcanic soil; Superina 2008). It can be found in some degraded habitats, such as pastureland and plantations. Animals have a relatively large home range within their arid habitat. Reproduction is restricted to the Spring months (Superina and Jahn 2009), and the female gives birth to one or two young (Superina et al. 2009). Zaedyus pichiy is the only armadillo species known to hibernate during the cold season (Superina and Boily 2007). It can enter torpor during periods of environmental stress (Superina and Jahn 2013).

It is not possible to determine their age once they reach adult size, and long-term population studies on pichis are lacking. Therefore, there are no data on the longevity, survival rates, or reproductive rates of wild pichis. Data from captive animals in Argentina show that females reach sexual maturity at 9-10 months of age, but that some females do not breed until their second year (Superina et al. 2009). Limited data from captive pichis suggest that their longevity is approximately 10 years. The generation length is thus suspected to be around 4 years
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Zaedyus pichiy is intensely used as a protein source. It is also used to make handicrafts.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Zaedyus pichiy is threatened by hunting for food and sport, including hunting with dogs. It is the main prey of poachers in Mendoza Province, Argentina (Superina 2008). An epidemic of an unknown disease has locally affected the species in some areas, and appears to be associated with rainy periods (Superina 2007, Superina et al. 2009). It is threatened to some degree by overgrazing of its habitat by cattle.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Zaedyus pichiy is present in many protected areas. Hunting of this species in Argentina and Chile continues, even though this is prohibited.

Bibliography [top]

Abba, A.M. and Vizcaíno, S.F. 2011. Distribución de los armadillos (Xenarthra: Dasypodidae) en la provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mastozoología Neotropical 18: 185-206.

Abba, A.M., Tognelli, M.F., Seitz, V.P., Bender, J.B. and Vizcaíno, S.F. 2012. Distribution of extant xenarthrans (Mammalia: Xenarthra) in Argentina using species distribution models. Mammalia 76: 123-136.

Aguiar, J.M. and da Fonseca, G.A.B. 2008. Conservation status of the Xenarthra. In: S.F. Vizcaino and W.J. Loughry (eds), The Biology of the Xenarthra, pp. 215-231. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Gardner, A.L. 1993. Order Xenarthra. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic reference. Second Edition, pp. 63-68. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Gardner, A.L. 2005. Order Cingulata. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World: A taxonomic and geographic reference. Third edition., pp. 94-99. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Iriarte, A.W. 2008. Mamíferos de Chile. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

IUCN. 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2014).

Redford, K.H. and Eisenberg, J.F. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics, The Southern Cone: Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, USA.

Superina, M. 2007. Natural history of the pichi (Zaedyus pichiy) in Mendoza Province, Argentina. Department of Biology, University of New Orleans.

Superina, M. 2008. The natural history of the Pichi, Zaedyus pichiy, in western Argentina. In: S. F. Vizcaino and W. J. Loughry (eds), The Biology of the Xenarthra, pp. 313-318. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Superina, M. and Abba, A.M. 2014. Zaedyus pichiy (Cingulata: Dasypodidae). Mammalian Species 46(905): 1-10.

Superina, M. and Boily, P. 2007. Hibernation and daily torpor in an armadillo, the pichi (Zaedyus pichiy). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A Comparative Physiology 148: 893-898.

Superina, M. and Jahn, G. 2009. Seasonal reproduction in male pichis Zaedyus pichiy (Xenarthra: Dasypodidae) estimated by fecal androgen metabolites and testicular histology. Animal Reproduction Science 112: 283-292.

Superina, M. and Jahn, G.A. 2013. Effect of low-quality diet on torpor frequency and depth in the pichi Zaedyus pichiy (Xenarthra, Dasypodidae), a South American armadillo. Journal of Thermal Biology 38: 280-285.

Superina, M., Carreño, N. and Jahn, G. 2009. Characterization of seasonal reproduction patterns in female pichis, Zaedyus pichiy (Xenarthra: Dasypodidae) estimated by fecal sex steroid metabolites and ovarian histology. Animal Reproduction Science 116: 358-369.

Superina, M., Garner, M.M. and Aguilar, R.F. 2009. Health evaluation of free-ranging and captive pichis, Zaedyus pichiy (Mammalia, Dasypodidae) in Mendoza Province, Argentina. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 45: 174-183.

Wetzel, R.M. 1982. Systematics, distribution, ecology, and conservation of South American edentates. In: M.A. Mares and H.H. Genoways (eds), Mammalian biology in South America, pp. 345-375. University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Citation: Superina, M. & Abba, A.M. 2014. Zaedyus pichiy. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2015.
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