By Janet Tappin Coelho
A desperately thirsty baby armadillo braved its fear of humans to drink water from a kind-hearted worker after the man decided to share a cup with the animal.
The adorable pup was spotted frantically digging for water in a dried-out desolate field in Tabapora, central west Brazil.
A video of the parched creature being fed by Cristiano Henrique, an agricultural engineer, as it gratefully quenches its thirst emerged this week.
The technician was checking farm estates in his company van for water and waste management on acres of land prepared for growing corn and soya bean crops when he stopped enroute to have a drink of water.
A few droplets from his container fell to the ground and to Cristiano’s surprise a young armadillo came scurrying up after its highly-developed sense of smell picked up the scent of water.
Cristiano, 42, who works for Mato Grosso’s Agricultural and Livestock Defence Institute, decided to share his rations with the pup when it started foraging for the globules that had already soaked into the dusty earth.
He said: “I instantly felt sorry for the baby. It hadn’t rained for days and when you look at how dry the earth is, it was obvious the animal was dehydrated.
“I filled my cup up again and went over and said: ‘Hey there little fellow, you are really thirsty aren’t you.’
“It was trying to lick the disappearing moisture from the soil with not much luck. So, I bent down and held the cup nearby and to my astonishment the little beast started to drink the water right out of my mug.”
Armadillo’s are known to be anti-social creatures and tend to live on their own, surviving mainly on a diet of insects and larvae. They rarely make contact with humans, but on this occasion the cute critter lost all its inhibitions and didn’t need any coaxing to accept Cristiano’s considerate gesture.
The shocked engineer said: “The situation was absurd because this is an area that should be fertile for indigenous animals. But here I was feeding this thirsty pup.”
The barrel-shaped omnivore was so dehydrated it drank two cups of water in the space of a minute.
It even used its clawed feet to push the beaker down to its level so it could greedily guzzle as much as it needed.
The footage shows the wild animal’s long pink sticky tongue darting in and out of its pointy snout as it sups noisily to its hearts content.
The unfazed creature even takes time to lift its head and appears to smile as it looks up to its benefactor as if to say ‘thank you’ and licks Cristiano’s hand as if in appreciation of the help.
The married father of one exclaimed in amazement: “My goodness, you would think it was a joke, but it wasn’t funny. The little one just wouldn’t stop drinking. I was really impressed with just how thirsty it was.”
According to biologist Professor Romildo Gonçalves, from Mato Grosso Federal University, the armadillo’s behaviour is ‘highly unusual’.
He said: “This is a wild animal that has very little interaction with humans. Its behaviour is atypical because it has a very small brain and hasn’t got the level of intelligence to form relationships like a domesticated animal.”
He suggested a possible explanation for the animal’s bold approach to the engineer was because it was either sick or weakened in some way.
Romildo said: “The creature is living in a deforested area and with the added drought from the lack of rain, it was probably tired and thirsty and when it smelled water it acted on instinct to survive. But this behaviour is totally out of character.”