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General Armadillo Information

The nine-banded armadillo, or the nine-banded, long-nosed armadillo, is a medium-sized wild animal found in North, Central, and South America, making it the most widespread of the armadillo family. It’s ancestors originated in South America, and remained there until many millennia later when the formation of the Isthmus of Panama allowed them to enter North America as part of the Great American Interchange. The nine-banded armadillo is a solitary, nocturnal wild animal, found in many kinds of habitats, from mature and secondary rainforests to grassland and dry land. It is an insectivore, feeding mainly on ants, termites, many types of insects and other small invertebrates. The armadillo can jump 3–6 foot straight upwards into the air if sufficiently frightened, making it a particular danger on roads. It is the state small mammal of Texas.

Facts About Armadillo

  • They vary in size, from 4-59 inches in length to 5-120 pounds in weight.
  • Armadillos can be pinkish, brown, black, red, gray or pale yellow in color.
  • Their armadillo body (head, back, legs and tail) is covered with bony plates.
  • Only three-banded armadillo can curl into a ball to protect itself from people and predators. Other armadillos run, hide or dig a hole when they need to escape from people and predators.
  • The armadillo’s legs and long claws are perfectly adapted for digging.
  • Armadillos can dig and create a network of tunnels underground
  • They sleep 16-18 hours per day in their burrows and then forage for food during the night.
  • Armadillos also dig up the ground to find their favorite food – insects, grubs and larvae.
  • Beside insects, armadillos like to eat small mammals, baby birds, eggs, fly pupae or larvae from carrion, roots and fruit.
  • Like anteaters, they have a long sticky tongue that works perfectly when they hunt ants and termites.
  • Armadillos are great swimmers & they can hold their breath for 6 minutes when they dive.
  • They are also excellent climbers. They will climb over obstructions in case they can't dig underneath.
    • Although armadillo mating season takes place in July, females become pregnant in November. This is called "delayed implantation".
    • Armadillo Females can postpone their pregnancies until environmental conditions become satisfying.
  • From one egg, 4 identical armadillos will be born.
  • A baby armadillo is born without bony plates. It takes a few weeks for their skin to turn into hard armor. A process known as ossification
  • Armadillos live 4-8 years in the wild and 12-16 years in captivity.

Some Diseases directly transmitted by Armadillo

  • Leprosy
  • Tapeworms
  • Salmonella
  • Rabies

Damage

Most armadillo damage occurs as a result of their rooting in residential lawns, golf courses, vegetable gardens, fencing and flower beds. Characteristic signs of armadillo activity are shallow holes, 1 to 4 inches deep and 3 to 6 inches wide. These holes have a characteristic “kidney bean” shape due to the armadillo plunging it’s snout directly into the soil. These actions can easily uproot flowers and other ornamental plants. Some damage is known to have been caused by their burrowing under foundations, driveways, and other structures. Some people complain that armadillos keep them awake at night by rubbing their shells against their houses or other structures.

There is evidence that armadillos may be responsible for the loss of domestic poultry and eggs. This loss can be prevented through exclusion, proper housing or fencing of nesting birds.

Disease is a factor associated with this species. They are the only other known vector in the transmission of Hanson’s Disease, or Leprosy, other than humans. Armadillos are known to carry Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent associated with Hanson’s Disease/Leprosy. The role that armadillos have in human infection, however, has not yet been determined. They may pose a potential risk for humans, particularly in the Gulf Coast region.

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Armadillo