Oregon Zoo welcomes new baby armadillo

May 30, 2019 - 3:27pm

Three-banded armadillo Max gives birth to her first pint-sized pup

Max, a three-banded armadillo at the Oregon Zoo, welcomed a tiny new pup last week. According to care staff, the new mom and her baby are doing well in their behind-the-scenes maternity den. This is the first offspring for Max and the pup's father, Toby, and the first armadillo to be born at the Oregon Zoo.

"Max is doing great so far as a first-time mom," said Tanya Paul, who oversees the zoo's armadillo family. "Baby armadillos are about the size of a golf ball, and they're born with soft shells, so Max likes to curl her body around the pup to keep him warm and comfortable."

The new pup is in good hands (or five-toed feet, in this case). Three-banded armadillos are the only armadillos that can roll into a ball for protection, allowing Max to create a safe and cozy space for her new baby. Among the smallest of the 20 species of armadillo, adult three-banded armadillos weigh about 3 pounds. The pint-sized new pup weighs just 5 ounces, but keepers say he's growing fast.

"He's nursing well and getting bigger every day," Paul said. "He'll stick close to his mom for the next several months, but he's already started venturing out a bit and exploring his habitat."

The pup had a quick veterinary checkup on Wednesday, but other than that care staff have been taking a hands-off approach to help the pair bond naturally. Max and her pup are in a private den behind the scenes, but visitors to the zoo can see the pup's dad, Toby, in the treetop habitat near giraffes and naked mole rats starting next month.

Three-banded armadillos are native to the dry grasslands of eastern Bolivia, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Unlike most armadillos, they do not dig for shelter, preferring to make their homes in abandoned anteater burrows. Their numbers in the wild are declining due to habitat loss, hunting and illegal pet trade.

Three-banded armadillos are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Max, Toby and their new pup are part of the AZA's Species Survival Plan for three-banded armadillos.