There's no mistaking an armor-plated armadillo baby for a fluffy-haired young puppy, but one particularly maternalistic dog isn't about to let such superficialities stand in the way of her nurturing instincts.
After a pair of armadillos were found orphaned on a plantation in Parana, Brazil, one of the workers volunteered to take the animals home, fearing that they would starve otherwise. There, he and his wife Ortência Regina Alves did their best to keep the helpless animals well-fed -- though to their surprise, the family dog Faísca soon took on the duty herself.
"Her reaction was instinctive," Ortência tells Globo. "Faísca saw my husband giving the babies milk, and suddenly, laid on the floor as if to nurse them."
Amazingly, the dog, who has no puppies of her own, began producing milk to nourish the armadillos. Local veterinarian, Maicon Puertas Sorrilha da Silva, says the orphans triggered pseudopregnancy in Faísca, a process in which the presence of young causes an animal to undergo physiological changes mirroring those that arise from natural pregnancies -- including milk production.
The family has attempted to find a more fitting situation for the young animals, but wildlife officials have yet to response. For the time being however, the armadillo orphans are being well cared from their adopted mother, says Ortência.
"If they had a better place to be, where they would not starve, she would not have to do this. But if we didn't take them, they would have died of hunger."
Here's a news report on the unlikely family, in Portuguese: