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The Verge Review of Animals: the pink fairy armadillo

The Verge Review of Animals: the pink fairy armadillo

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This column is part of a series where Verge staffers post highly subjective reviews of animals. Up until now, we've written about animals without telling you whether they suck or rule. We are now rectifying this oversight.

What is in a name? In my opinion, everything. Things are only as amazing as the words you use to describe them. That's why the pink fairy armadillo is the best animal there is, and Scissorhands Salon is the only place I get my hair cut. The pink fairy armadillo is also known as "pichiciego," which is one of the best words I've ever heard. Two great names, one beyond great animal.

The pink fairy armadillo is the world's smallest armadillo — they're usually about 4-inches long and weigh a quarter of a pound. Because of their missable size and the fact that they spend most of their time underground, not much is known about these tiny, perfect things. What we do know is that they're beautiful and rare!

pink fairy armadillo
Wikimedia Commons

When confronted with the pink fairy armadillo's cuteness, some of my coworkers didn't believe that the creature could possibly be real. The haters (who will remain nameless) commented things like "that's definitely a little mole wearing a knit that someone bought on Etsy," "It's a weasel in an ice cream cone," and "I believe 'pichi' is from the Latin word for fake-ass." Today I am tasked with not only reviewing a creature, but convincing doubters of its very existence.

Full disclosure: In accordance with my ethical obligation as a journalist I am reporting that I have a financial and / or business and / or emotional interest in pink animals. This interest may affect this report, and has been disclosed fully to The Verge and Vox Media. Ethics in highly subjective reviews of animals are a priority.

Pink fairies are nocturnal, and spend their nights burrowing in the sands of central Argentina. They are experts at moving through underground sand — they dig with their enormous claws and then pat the sand behind them into a compact tunnel with a butt plate that resembles a spatula. In a recent profile of Melania Trump, fashion photographer Stane Jerko tells GQ that it was hard to fit Melania with shoes for shoots, because her feet were so big. Then he says "You know what they say in Slovenia about people with big feet? When you live on big feet, you live big." This idiom holds true for the pink fairy armadillo, a creature with big feet that is truly living its best life.

"When you live on big feet, you live big."

An interesting subjective fact about this armadillo is that it kind of looks like a newborn baby. It's slightly fleshy and transparent, as if its skin has not yet had time to fully form. In fact, their soft pink shells set them apart from other armadillo species, all of which have hard shells that serve as protective body armor. Scientists say that the pink fairy armadillo's shell is used instead to help the armadillo regulate its body temperature — because the blood vessels are so close to the surface of the shell (giving it its pink hue), the armadillo can easily curl up or spread out to regulate the amount of its surface area that is exposed to the air, thereby keeping its body temperature under its control.

Researchers guess that the only reason these guys come above ground is to reroute around rocks they can't dig their way through, and to get out of their tunnels during rainstorms that may flood them. Pink fairies are extremely sensitive to environmental changes, and usually survive only a few days in captivity. If its burrow does flood, a pink fairy can also die quite easily of hypothermia from wet fur.

Humans really shouldn't interact with pink fairy armadillos at all, as they're extremely sensitive to stress. Even tiny changes in their environment or diet can be fatal. Thankfully, they're very good at hiding and sightings are extremely rare. Mariella Superina, a conservation biologist who studies armadillos specifically, told Wired that she has spent 13 years in the field and never spotted a pink fairy.

A rare video of the pink fairy armadillo shows his digging skills and unfathomable cuteness (as well as a terrible stick-wielding human being who should probably be imprisoned).

As soon as I saw a photo of this precious gift of nature I knew I would give it a perfect score of 10, but once I set about learning everything there was to know about Pinkie I realized I had been wrong. Dead wrong. He's an 11. Hopefully this review will silence the pink fairy armadillo's critics for good.

The Pink Fairy Armadillo

Verge Score: 11.0


Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • Cute like a baby

  • Pink like a baby

  • Tiny like a baby

Bad Stuff

  • Pink because of blood

  • Can't live in my house with me

  • Feeble