The baby armadillo is three weeks old and tips the scales at just eight ounces.
VIDEO: Is This The Weigh To Armadillo? Adorable Newborn Pup So Tiny It Fits In The Palm Of A Hand
An armadillo has been born to first-time parents Vespa and Scooter at a Washington State zoo. In video footage, the pup can be seen crawling on a blanket, so small it fits in the palm of a hand.
The Southern three-banded armadillo, also known as Azara’s domed armadillo, was born at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, in late October. Females give birth to a single pup.
Yet to be named, the pup takes her first steps in the video, with her eyes still closed. At one point, the tiny creature is seen curling up into a ball. In fact, it’s the only species of armadillo that can roll into a complete ball to defend itself.
The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium said: “The pup is the first healthy armadillo pup born at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in its 116-year history.”
The zoo’s lead veterinarian, Karen Wolf, said the female armadillo pup is “the perfect little replica of her parents.”
“We’re thrilled to welcome this pup into our animal family,” said assistant curator Maureen O’Keefe.
Zookeepers said they monitored mother Vespa “around the clock” leading up to the pup’s birth.
“Vespa was trained to allow us to give her voluntary ultrasounds throughout her pregnancy. She’d even let us feel her belly without curling up in a ball, allowing us to give her the care she needed.
“Vespa is a natural at parenting and caring for her pup,” O’Keefe said.
At nearly three weeks old, the pup weighs around half a pound. She will remain out of the public eye until she bonds with her mother and has developed more.
“The pup’s birth is the result of a breeding recommendation for Scooter and Vespa by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Southern three-banded armadillos,” the zoo said.
“The SSP looks at the genetic makeup of each prospective parent before recommending a pairing; this helps ensure diversity of armadillos in North American zoos.”
“Southern three-banded armadillos are native to the southern interior of South America. They are listed as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” said the zoo. “Primary threats include habitat destruction as native grasslands are converted to farms and hunting and capture for the pet trade.”
Unlike most armadillos, the Southern three-banded do not dig their own burrows. Insect eaters, they prefer abandoned anteater burrows, or they make their dens under dense vegetation. They have poor eyesight, but a great sense of smell.
Edited by Fern Siegel and Kristen Butler