Thursday, 8 October 2015


As unlikely as it seems that there should be an animal named the big hairy armadillo, here in Patagonia there is. It is a burrow-dwelling loner which spends its its dawns and dusks digging the dust with its big-toed front feet, raising its bristly behind to the sky as it searches for food. My group has been hoping to see one, but our time until now has been spent looking for (and finding) pumas. This afternoon, after a lovely walk with thorn-tailed rayaditos, austral blackbirds and a plain-mantled tit-spinetail (while we're on the subject of unlikely names), Cris and I proposed we should go on an armadillo hunt.

We went first to a trail to a waterfall, where Cris has often seen armadillos in the past. We got thirty metres from the bus, though grass heavily scuffed by these animals' toes, before we saw one, pottering about its business in the delicious light of evening. Our armadillo scratched at the ground and rooted with its snout, blundering at speed between bouts of digging, all the while unaware we were there. Finally this clockwork carapace trundled over a low ridge and we left it in grub-hunting peace.

We saw no puma this afternoon: the first time we have not done so on a drive in Torres del Paine. Instead we went in search of the unlikely big hairy armadillo. And this we emphatically saw.

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