14 Facts About Armadillos

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Armadillos are placental mammals found in the Americas that have a protective armor shell. Their name means “little armored one” in Spanish. There are 21 existing armadillo species. They are part of the xenarthran superorder, which also includes anteaters and sloths.

Here are 14 interesting facts about these armor-plated mammals:

1. There are 21 different species of armadillo, ranging in size from the 5-inch, 5-ounce pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot, 120-pound giant armadillo.

2. All armadillos have a protective shell made up of overlapping plates covering their back, head, legs, and tail. This bony covering is called the carapace.

3. Armadillos are the only mammals with this type of shell. Made of bone covered by thick, leathery skin, it serves to protect armadillos from predators.

4. They can curl up into a tight, armored ball when threatened. This allows them to fend off natural enemies and avoid getting injured.

5. Armadillos have very poor eyesight, so they rely heavily on their strong sense of smell to hunt for food and detect predators.

6. Powerful legs and large front claws make it easy for armadillos to dig quickly in search of food. A single armadillo can dig dozens of holes in a day rooting for grubs, insects, and small animals.

7. Armadillos are omnivores, feeding on things like insects, grubs, fruit, seeds, frogs, lizards, eggs, and small snakes. They sometimes eat carrion and even plants.

8. The nine-banded armadillo is the only species that lives in North America. Its range covers the southern United States from Texas to Florida and some parts of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

9. Armadillos always give birth to quadruplets – four genetically identical offspring from one fertilized egg. The young are born with soft shells that harden within a few weeks.

10. Armadillos are known carriers of leprosy and are believed to have transmitted the disease to some humans in southern states. Their body temperature of 89°F makes them ideal incubators for the bacteria that causes leprosy.

11. With their sharp claws, armadillos can dig fast enough to escape from predators in just a few seconds. They often make their homes in the abandoned burrows of other animals.

12. Armadillos can hold their breath underwater for up to 6 minutes at a time. This helps them escape predators and cross water obstacles while foraging.

13. When threatened, armadillos can inflate their stomachs and intestines with air to float across rivers and streams to safety.

14. The giant armadillo has up to 100 teeth, more than any other land mammal. Most other armadillo species have between 60 – 90 teeth.

So there you have it – 14 fascinating facts about one of nature’s most unusual and adaptable mammals. Armadillos may look a bit odd, but they have some remarkable traits that aid their survival. Their unique appearance and behaviors make them fun animals to observe and study.

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