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]

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.

Anacleto, T.C.S., Diniz-Filho, J.A.F. and Vital, M.V.C. 2006. Estimating potential geographic ranges of armadillos (Xenarthra, Dasypodidae) in Brazil under niche-based models. Mammalia 70(3-4): 202-213.

Anderson, S. 1997. Mammals of Bolivia: Taxonomy and distribution. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 231: 1–652.

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

Carter, T.S. 1985. Armadillos of Brazil. National Geographic Society Research Reports 20: 101-107.

Carter, T.S. and Encarnação, C.D. 1983. Characteristics and use of burrows by four species of Armadillo in Brazil. Journal of Mammalogy 64: 103-108.

Chebez, J.C. 1994. Los Que Se Van. Especies Argentinas en Peligro. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Albatros: 604.

Emmons, L.H. and Feer, F. 1997. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide, Second edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.

Emmons, L.H. and Romo, M.R. 1994. Mammals of the Upper Tambopata/Távara. In: RAP Working Paper # 6, The Tambopata-Candamo Reserve Zone of Southeastern Perú: A Biological Assessment (ed.). Conservation International, Washington, DC, USA.

Engstrom, M. and Lim, B. 2000. Checklist of the mammals of Guyana. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Fallabrino, A. and Castiñeira, E. 2006. Situacion de los Edentados en Uruguay. Edentata 7: 1-3.

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.

Groombridge, B. (ed.). 1994. 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Grzimek, B. 1988. Grzimeks Enzyklopädie Säugetiere. Kindler Verlag, München.

IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

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

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1986. 1986 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre. 1988. 1988 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Krieg, H. 1929. Biologische Reisestudien in Südamerika. IX. Gürteltiere. Zeitschrift für Morphologie und Oekologie der Tiere 14: 166-190.

Mares, M.A., Barquez, R.M., Braun, J.K. and Ojeda, R.A. 1996. Observations on the mammals of Tucuman Province, Argentina. I. Systematics, distribution, and ecology of the Didelphimorphia, Xenarthra, Chiroptera, Primates, Carnivora, Perissodactyla, Artiodactyla, and Lagomorpha. Annals of Carnegie Museum 65: 89-152.

Meritt Jr., D.A. 2008. Xenarthrans of the Paraguayan Chaco. In: S.F. Vizcaino and W.J. Loughry (eds), The Biology of the Xenarthra, pp. 294-299. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Merrett, P.K. 1983. Edentates : Project for city and guilds animal management course. Zoological Trust of Guernsey, Guernsey, Channel Islands.

Noss, A., Cuéllar, E., Gómez, H., Tarifa, T. and Aliaga-Rossel, E. 2010. Dasypodidae. In: R.B. Wallace, H. Gómez, Z.R. Porcel and D.I. Rumiz (eds), Distribución, ecología y conservación de los mamíferos medianos y grandes de Bolivia, pp. 173-212. Centro de Ecología Difusión Simón I. Patiño, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia.

Noss, A., Peña, R. and Rumiz, D.I. 2004. Camera trapping Priodontes maximus in the dry forests of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Endangered Species Update 21(2): 43-52.

Nowak, R.M. (ed.) 1999. Walkers Mammals of the World. Sixth edition. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.

Pacheco, V., de Macedo, H., Vivar, E., Ascorra, C.F., Arana-Cardó, R. and Solari, S. 1995. Lista anotada de los mamíferos peruanos. Occasional Papers in Conservation Biology 2: 1-35.

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.

Ruschi, A. 1954. Algumas especies zoológicas e botánicas em vías de extinção no Estado do Espirito Santo. Boletim do Museu de Biologia Professor Mello Leitão, Série Proteção à Natureza 16A: 1-45.

Scott, P. 1965. Section XIII. Preliminary List of Rare Mammals and Birds. The Launching of a New Ark. First Report of the President and Trustees of the World Wildlife Fund. An International Foundation for saving the world's wildlife and wild places 1961-1964, pp. 15-207. Collins, London, UK.

Silveira, L., Jácomo, A.T.A., Torres, N.M., Sollmann, R. and Vynne, C. 2009. Ecology of the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) in the grasslands of central Brazil. Edentata 8-10: 25-34.

Srbek-Araujo, A. C., Scoss, L. M., Hirsch, A. and Chiarello, A. G. 2009. Records of the giant-armadillo Priodontes maximus (Cingulata: Dasypodidae) in the Atlantic Forest: are Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo the last strongholds of the species? Zoologia 26(3): 461-468.

Superina, M., Pagnutti, N. and Abba, A.M. 2014. What do we know about armadillos? An analysis of four centuries of knowledge about a group of South American mammals, with emphasis on their conservation. Mammal Review 44: 69-80.

Tarifa, T. 2009. Priodontes maximus. In: Aguirre, L.F., Aguayo, R., Balderrama, J.A., Cortez, C., Tarifa, T., and Rocha O., O. (eds), Libro rojo de la fauna silvestre de vertebrados de Bolivia, pp. 496-498. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua, La Paz.

Thornback, J. and Jenkins, M. 1982. The IUCN Mammal Red Data Book. Part 1: Threatened mammalian taxa of the Americas and the Australasian zoogeographic region (excluding Cetacea). IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Tirira, D.G. 1999. Mamíferos del Ecuador. Museo de Zoología de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Publicación especial sobre los mamíferos del Ecuador 2, Quito, Ecuador.

Tirira, D.G. 2007. Guía de Campo de los Mamíferos del Ecuador. Ediciones Murciélago Blanco. Publicación especial sobre los mamíferos del Ecuador 6, Quito, Ecuador.

Trujillo, F. and Superina, M. 2013. Armadillos de los Llanos Orientales. ODL, Fundación Omacha, Cormacarena, Corporinoquia, Bioparque Los Ocarros, Bogotá, Colombia.

Vizcaíno, S.F., Abba, A.M. and García Esponda, C.M. 2006. Magnaorden Xenarthra. In: R.M. Barquez, M.M. Díaz and R.A. Ojeda (eds), Los mamíferos de Argentina: sistemática y distribución, pp. 46-56. Sociedad Argentina para el estudio de los Mamíferos (SAREM), San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina.

Walsh, J. and Gannon, R. 1967. Time is short and the water rises: Operation Gwamba: the incredible story of how 10,000 animals were rescued from certain death in a South American rain forest. Tower Publications, Inc.

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: 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 01 July 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided