Adulthood is kind of like the Olympics where the main event is trying not to fall apart under the weight of your own ennui. Sometimes, you've just got to let that internal tension out by screaming into the open air. Or a pillow. Or the frozen foods section at Whole Foods. But honestly, no creature shouts into the void better than the aptly-named Screaming Hairy Armadillo.
This week on Animals Are Good, we've decided to spotlight this small, hairy screamer, as two new members of its species were recently born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These pups may look cute — but in the grasslands of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia that they call home, screaming hairy armadillos are not to be trifled with.
Not only do they emit high-pitched banshee shrieks when captured by coyotes, jaguars and other predators, screaming hairy armadillos feast on fire ants, which is bananas. They also sleep up to 16 hours a day, which is relatable.
Screaming hairy armadillos are just tiny tots, only getting up to about two pounds when fully grown. To biologists, a blood curdling wail is just one of many reasons to be fascinated by these critters.
"[Screaming hairy armadillos] are so named because they have a lot of hair protruding from between their scutes (bony external plates)," wildlife biologist Imogene Cancellare explained. Those bony plates protect the animals from predators, although their rigidity prevents the screaming hair armadillo from curling all the way into a ball. Instead, it has to press its body into the ground, or jump three feet into the air when threatened.
Cancellare added that screaming hairy armadillos are solitary species, like other armadillos. "However, unlike other armadillo species, they dig holes using their heads instead of their legs and claws."
Since shouting at random times in public is generally frowned upon, screaming hairy armadillos sing the anthem that we cannot. Thank you, hairy children of existential dread, for speaking for all of us.