These cute and funny animals are small mammals that carry their own suits of armor around with them. They are most known as “speed bumps” because of their habit of crossing roads really slow.
The “armadillo” is a Spanish word for “little armored one”. To meet them better, here is some interesting information about these fascinating creatures.
The armadillo is native to both South America and North America, even though only one species of armadillo is found in the United States.
The armadillo has a hard outer shell and some of the species can curl up into a ball leaving no soft body parts exposed when danger appears. The armadillo also has long claws which are used for hunting for insects in the earth and digging burrows. Like most insect eating mammals, these animals have a very long, sticky tongue to slurp up bugs as quickly as they can. The armadillos also with their strong claws open ant nests. Most armadillos grow hair, especially on their undersides, but most have sparse, spiky hair.
The giant armadillo “Priodontes maximus” is the largest species of armadill, growing up to 40 inches long. The pink fairy armadillo “Chlamyphorus truncates” is the smallest of the 19 or such armadillo species growing to only about 6 inches long! They live in central Argentina and have pink armor and feet and fluffy white fur.
Armadillos eat very specialized food consisting of certain ant species and termites. These animals roam throughout their range searching for termite mounds in which to burrow. When they find a mount, they completely destroy it. This species has also been documented eating carrion, worms and other small vertebrates.
Mating and Breeding
Female armadillos give birth to around four young which are born after a gestation period of 3 to 4 months. After birth the baby armadillos remain in the burrow for a few months only feeding on their mother’s milk. They typically give birth to a single offspring (occasionally two), which weighs up to 115 g at birth and already possess tough skin. Weaning begins about 4 to 6 weeks after birth, and after that period the young become completely independent. Armadillos reach sexual maturity within 9 months to 1 year of birth.
Armadillo As Pet
Although armadillos do not appear to show any outward signs of stress in captivity, under the wrong circumstances they may become aggressive, or succumb to the same health and boredom problems that affect many captive animals. Armadillos would probably not be great pets for most people to begin with. They are nocturnal; they will wake up at night and forage and would be sleeping when you are awake.
- Armadillos may be brave and determined, but they aren’t known for their intelligence.
- On the contrary to popular belief, the nine-banded armadillo cannot roll itself into a ball to avoid predators!! Only one of the 20 varieties of armadillos — the three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus) is able to roll up.
- Nine-banded armadillos always give birth to four identical young — the only mammal known to do so.
- Armadillos like to swim and they are very good at it. They have a strong dog paddle and can travel really long distances underwater walking along the bottom of ponds and streams. They can hold their breath for 4 to 6 minutes at a time.