Armadillos are the only mammals whose bodies are covered with the hard shell. The nine-banded armadillo is the only armadillo species that live in North America. Other 19 species live in South America. They inhabit the semi-arid area, rain forests, and grasslands. Many armadillo species are threatened due to hunting and habitat loss.
Armadillos are small New World animals commonly known as speed bumps for their habit of moving very slowly when crossing the roads, and they carry their suits of armor around with them. And that is just the beginning of what makes these mammals really fascinating.
The name “armadillo” came from the Spanish terms meaning “little-armored one.” They eat insects and grubs, worms, small reptiles, and sometimes plants. They have an excellent sense of smell but poor eyesight, which is a common defect among animals which dig in the dirt. In this article, we will explore more interesting facts about Armadillos. Enjoy!
- Armadillos are the only mammals that can give birth to young quadruplets at once and from one egg. These quadruplets are identical in all aspects.
- It’s believed that nine-banded armadillo can’t roll itself into a ball to avoid their predators. Only one of the twenty-odd armadillo species—the three-banded armadillo can roll up. The other species are covered with very many bony plates to enable them to curl up. Other armadillos have to depend on their armored shells for a defense that assists them to dig themselves a hole or scuttle away through thick, thorny bushes to hide in.
- Many species of Armadillos dig burrows and spent most of the time sleeping; up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the evening and early morning for termites, ants, beetles, and other insects.
- Like Anteaters, Armadillos have the long sticky tongue which works perfectly when they hunt termites and ants. They eat fire ants as well. They’re well-equipped with very strong claws to tear the nests of ants.
- Reproduction of armadillos is unique. While mating season happens in July, the female becomes pregnant in November. This is known as “delayed implantation.” Females can postpone their pregnancy until environmental conditions are favorable.
- Armadillos have an extremely low metabolic rate that shows that they do not waste a high amount of energy producing heat. Also, this means that they aren’t good at living in cold regions. They lack fat stores, so they must forage for food every day. Just a few cold days in a row can be dangerous to armadillos.
- Armadillos lack teeth enamel covering the hard external covering of their tooth. This is the reason the teeth of this tiny animal aren’t that strong and are fewer in number.
- Besides humans, Armadillos are the only animals that are affected by Hansen’s disease, also referred to as leprosy. In 2015, nine people in Florida tested positive for leprosy; all report encounters with armadillos. However, it isn’t a situation which should cause panic. There are usually 150-200 cases in the United States each year, and Hansen’s disease is treatable if caught early. There are also tens of thousands of armadillo encounters, but since 95% of people are already immune to leprosy, the likelihood of catching it from an armadillo is quite small.
- The nine-banded armadillo is the only common species in the United States. It ranges throughout the South American, from Atlantic to Texas and as far north as Nebraska. It is also common in Mexico. Although their name would suggest otherwise, nine-banded armadillos can have about 7-11 bands in their armor.
- The screaming hairy armadillo can be found in Bolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay. As the name might suggest, this creature has long hair that grows from between its armor scales and screams when in danger.
- Armadillos live in warm and temperate habitats, including semi-deserts, grasslands, and rainforests. Due to lack of fat stores and their low metabolic rate, cold is their greatest enemy, and spates of intemperate weather can wipe out the entire population.