Monday, June 12, 2006

Animal of the Week June 12, 2006 -- World Cup Nations I (Paraguay)

Good Monday one and all,

Those of you who know me will know how excited I am about the World Cup! Not one bit, which explains why I am trailing a week behind with my nations-themed animals. This week's animal Chlamyphorus retusus (pichiciego, fairy armadillo) is an inhabitant of the Gran Chaco, an area of dry scrubland with rich plant and animal diversity in the homeland of this weekend's losers against England, Paraguay.

There are two species of fairy armadillo in South America, surprisingly the pichiego is the less gay of the two, the other being the smaller "pink fairy armadillo" (Chlamyphorus truncatus). The fairy armadillos are less heavily armoured than some of their cousins, being noted for their downy white hair on their sides and bellies. Both species are able diggers. Thankfully, after last week's epic, not a great deal is known about these animals except that they sometimes make a noise like the crying of a human baby. They survive largely on a diet of ants and grubs, although one individual kept in captivity survived solely on a diet of grapefruit and rice. How long it survived on this diet is not reported.

And wow, look at the size of these guys' hands, maybe if Paraguay had had one of these as goal defender on Saturday afternoon the British wouldn't have been able to score a bullseye in the first chukka. Come on the lads!


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