There are 20 varieties of this animal but only one variety lives in the United States. Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armored one” and refers to the bony plates that cover the back, head, legs and tail. It is a very odd-looking creature if you’ve ever come face-to-face with it. The Armadillo is the only living mammal that wears this shell. One species in particular – the nine-banded armadillo – has made its way into the southern United States
Why is it Called Nine-Banded?
There are nine (sometimes fewer) narrow, jointed armor bands on its midsection that let it bend. Although it is called nine-banded armadillos, it can sometimes only have 7 to 11 bands on their armor.
“They are related to anteaters and sloths and have a pointy or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. They vary widely in size and color, from the 6-inch-long, salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot-long, dark-brown giant armadillo. Others have black, red, gray, or yellowish coloring”, states National Geographic.
Nature Works PBS describes an Armadillo as “it has a small, pointed head with a long snout; peg-like teeth and large, pointed ears. Its front feet have large, thick, sharp claws that help it dig and burrow. Its underparts are soft. Although it is covered in armor, it does have a little fur on its body”.
They live in mild and warm habitats, including rain forests, grasslands, and semi-deserts. Cold is their enemy because they have a low metabolic rate and no fat stores. Cold weather can wipe out an entire population.
Habits and Diet
They can sleep up to 16 hours per day. They are nocturnal year-round, keeping cool underground during the day and foraging at night. Armadillos are omnivores and eat beetles, termites, ants, small vertebrates, plants, and some fruit. Their eyesight is very poor and they use their sense of smell to hunt.
Armadillos are expert diggers that excavate land for food and dig burrows for shelter. They prefer to dig in areas with loose, porous soil, rich in insects and invertebrates.
The armadillo reproduction begins in early summer, and the breeding period lasts about 2-3 months. It then takes up to 4 months for a fertilized egg to become implanted and another 4 before young are born. Each time, the fertilized egg breaks into four identical zygotes, yielding quadruplets.
They are between 25-48” long including their tail and weigh between 8 – 18 lbs.
Their average life span in captivity is 7 – 10 years.
Armadillos have the ability to carry the bacterium that causes leprosy in humans (Mycobacterium leprae). The risk of contracting leprosy from an armadillo is extremely low. Scientists believe that in order to contract leprosy from an armadillo, one must handle armadillos frequently and/or consume armadillo meat.
Signs of Armadillo Damage
Signs of armadillo damage include:
If you see any signs of the nine-banded armadillos, make sure you let a professional pest control company handle it for you?
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