Nine-Banded Armadillo

QUICK FACTS

Scientific Name

Dasypus novemcinctus

Species Survival Plan

No

Habitat

Prefer limestone outcroppings with dense shade

Predators

Coyote, other small mammals and birds of prey

Food

Insects and other invertebrates

Originally Native To

South-central and southeastern U.S. to Peru and Uruguay

Height

18-40 inches including tail, which can be up to 70 percent of their overall length

Weight

8 - 17 lb.

Characteristics

Cat-sized, armored, insect-eating mammal with long, pointed nose and short legs

Gestation Period

120 days

Offspring

4 pups

Birth Season

March

Lifespan

Wild 12 - 15 years
Captivity 20 years

Social Behavior

Solitary except female with young

iucn_badge_least_concern

About Nine-Banded Armadillo

There are 20 types of armadillos in existence, but only the nine-banded armadillo is found in the United States where it first appeared about one million years ago. It is the only armadillo increasing in numbers.

The Spanish meaning of the word armadillo is “little armored one.” This term refers to the covering over the animal’s head, legs and tail. The armadillo is the only mammal possessing this unique defense mechanism.

Members of this genus are characterized by the long, pointed nose and relatively short legs. Four toes are present on the front feet, five toes on the hind feet – all with well-developed claws. Because they walk on the tips of their feet, they tend to leave three-toed tracks that resemble bird footprints.

They are closely related to sloths and anteaters with a long snout and small eyes that provide poor eyesight. Their sense of smell is used in locating ants, beetles, termites and other diet choices. Strong claws and leg muscles aid in digging, while sticky tongues quickly gather the ants and termites.

They hunt during early morning and late evening, but can found sleeping up to 16 hours per day. An armadillo’s teeth are small, peg-like and do not possess enamel.

A memorable fact about armadillos is they always give birth to four identical young, a result of the single egg always dividing twice during early development. Females can delay the implantation of the fertilized egg for up to two years when they are stressed. Although breeding occurs in July, the embryo remains in a dormant state until November and the pups are born in March.

They are good swimmers, but are also known to walk on the bottom of waterways, being able to hold their breath for 4-6 minutes when necessary. Armadillos live in burrows located in limestone formations with dense, shady cover.

The armadillo is the state mammal of Texas.

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