Armadillo Facts

armadillo portraitPortrait of an Armadillo

One of the more amazing armadillo facts is that nine-banded armadillos always have quadruplets - four babies at a time, all of the same sex.

Remarkable in every way, the armadillo is the only mammal with a shell. It has plates of bone covered with leathery skin across its back and tail, and bony armor scales on the head and face.

There are softer, more flexible bands between the plates that allow for movement, and one species, the three banded armadillo from Brazil, can roll itself up in a ball for protection.

The other species rely on stealth and speed to avoid predators, but if they are cornered, simple frustration can save their lives.

Many a coyote, bear or badger has been put off by the hard upper shell of the armadillo, and walked away without a meal, never realizing the armor plates do not extend underneath, and that the armadillos belly is completely unprotected.

screaming armadillothe screaming armadillo

A newborn baby armadillo has a soft shell that hardens within the first few days.

There are about 20 different species of armadillos.

Armadillos can be found in forested areas throughout Central and South America.

But the most common and wide-spread species of armadillo, the nine-banded, ranges well into North America, and is the State animal of Texas.

The nine-banded armadillo  averages about 8 pounds, stands about 10 inches tall, and is 24 inches long. 

Nine-banded, or nine-lined armadillos are generally solitary. They dig numerous burrows around their territory and stay underground during the day, coming up to forage at dusk.

Other armadillo species range in size from the giant armadillo, that can grow to 5 feet long and over 70 pounds, to the tiny and miraculous pink fairy armadillo, which is a mere 5 inches long.

Armadillos are related to anteaters, and eat insects as the bulk of their diet, but they can also eat a range of foods from birds eggs to berries if they happen upon them.

The armadillo uses its strong claws and powerful fore limbs to dig up termites, roaches, ants, scorpions and grubs, lapping them up with it's long, sticky tongue.

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nine line armadillothe nine-banded armadillo

a few more Armadillo facts

walking armadillohairy armadillo
  • The armadillo's armor is made out of bone
  • Only one species, the three-banded, can roll into a ball
  • Armadillos can carry leprosy
  • The armadillo is a mammal and gives birth to live young
  • Armadillos can swim underwater and hold their breath for 5 minutes
  • The nine-banded armadillo is the state animal of Texas

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