Armadillos are placental mammals in the order Cingulata and are native to the Americas. They have 21 extant species, some of which are distinguished by the number of bands on their armor.
They have leathery armor and keen digging claws. They can grow up to 150 cm (59 in) long and weigh up to 54 kg (119 lb).
Armadillo Facts for Kids
- Armadillos are mammals
- They can live 2 – 15 years
- Armadillos can sleep 18.5 hours a day
- Their armor protects them from predators
- They can give birth to identical quadruplets
Types of Armadillo
The nine-banded armadillo is a solitary, mainly nocturnal animal found in North, Central, and South America. It is an insectivore and can jump 3 – 4 ft (91 – 122 cm) straight in the air if sufficiently frightened.
Nine-banded armadillos are one of the largest species of armadillos and can reach a total length of 64 cm (25 in). The nine-banded armadillo’s outer shell is composed of ossified dermal scutes covered by nonoverlapping, keratinized epidermal scales, and is connected by flexible bands of skin.
The giant armadillo has 11 to 13 movable bands on its body and 3 or 4 on its neck.
It is almost entirely hairless, with just a few beige-colored hairs protruding between the scutes.
Giant armadillos are found throughout northern South America east of the Andes, except for eastern Brazil and Paraguay. They inhabit open habitats and lowland forests.
Brazilian three-Banded Armadillo
The Brazilian three-banded armadillo is an armadillo species that is only found in eastern Brazil.
They are an indigenous animal to Brazil that lives in open savannahs and dry woodlands where there is an abundance of cactus-like plants.
They find food by shuffling along with their nose to the ground and digging a hole with their long, sticky tongue.
Southern three-Banded Armadillo
The southern three-banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo capable of rolling into a complete ball to defend itself from predators. It is typically a yellow or brownish color and weighs between 1 and 1.6 kg.
Pink Fairy Armadillos
The pink fairy armadillo is a solitary, desert-adapted animal that can be found inhabiting sandy plains, dunes, and scrubby grasslands.
They have small eyes, silky yellowish-white fur, and a spatula-shaped tail. They are nocturnal and solitary creatures.
They are nocturnal burrowing mammals endemic to central Argentina. They live in scrubby grasslands that display a variety of thin Larrea and Portulaca shrubs during spring and summer periods, as well as sandy plains and dunes.
Armadillos belong to the order Cingulata, which originated 60 million years ago when South America was more isolated from the North American landmass. Today, only two major families of armadillos remain, including the widespread nine-banded armadillo.
Appearance and Behavior
Armadillos have pointed snouts, short legs, a long tail, sharp claws, and big ears, and they vary widely in size from 5 inches to 59 inches and 120 pounds.
The armadillo’s scaly shell provides armor-like protection against predators. Only one species can roll into a ball. The others dig deep into the ground to protect their softer parts.
Armadillos are very gifted diggers and can create massive burrows in the ground to serve as a safe and comfortable home. They also have a superior sense of smell and can easily sniff out hidden food beyond the sight of most animals.
Armadillos have flexible social arrangements that may change depending on the situation. They will sometimes congregate together to find a mate for the breeding season or to keep warm during cold bouts.
The only species found outside of South and Central America is the nine-banded variety, which may also be found in the United States. Armadillos are nearly entirely native to South and Central America.
Armadillos use their keen sense of smell to hunt for food and dig their burrows. They have five clawed hind toes and three to five forefeet.
Armadillos are omnivores, eating ants, termites, beetles, wasps, spiders, snails, scorpions, fruits, vegetation, eggs, small reptiles and amphibians, and carrion. They are helpful to humans as they dispose of insects and pests that can harm crops.
Predators and Threats
Armadillos are vulnerable to attacks by various types of predators, ranging from jaguars to coyotes, wolves, bears, and even large hawks.They can float across the water.
Throughout human history, armadillos have often been hunted for food or for their parts, and they are vulnerable to many types of human activity, including road accidents, poisoning, or extermination.
Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan
Armadillos have a long history of being pursued for their meat or for the various parts of their bodies. Because of this, they are susceptible to many forms of human activity, such as being killed in car accidents, poisoning, or eradicated entirely.
Armadillos are prolific breeders, with the male having one of the largest penis sizes to body lengths among all mammals. They can produce eight to 15 identical babies at a time, but some species may only produce one or two pups at a time.
The armadillo is in relatively strong health. However, some species are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat destruction and deliberate deaths from hunting and poisoning.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How many species of armadillo are there?
There are 21 different kinds of armadillos.
The name “armadillo” comes from the Spanish phrase “little armored one,” which alludes to the presence of bony plates that coat their body like armor. The nine-banded armadillo is the only species of armadillo found in the United States.
What is the rarest armadillo?
The giant armadillo, or Pryodontes maximus, is the most endangered member of its family all across the world. In Brazil, they are referred to as “tatu-ac” or “tatu-canastra.”