Armadillos are the mammals with the shell, which covers their back, head, legs, and tail, primarily eat insects and different type of bugs. It is a native to America and found in different habitats of America. You may easily find them meandering down nearby roadside while walking or travelling.
The word Armadillo is derived from the Spanish language which means “little-armed one”. It suits the animal because of the strong armours cover the back, head, tail, and legs and work well against the predators. Armadillos are unique because are the only living mammals that wear such shells. They protect themselves with the armours which cover their body.
According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), there is a total of 21 varieties of armadillos found. 20 species of armadillos roaming North and South America, and only one, the nine-banded armadillo or long-nosed armadillo ranges from Argentina to the southern United States.
Classification or Taxonomy of Armadillo
The smallest armadillo is pink fairy armadillo with a size of 15 cm. Most of the species of armadillos are giant and can be long up to around 5 feet. Apart from that, there is Seven-banded armadillo, Southern long-nosed armadillo, Llanos long-nosed armadillo, Greater long-nosed armadillo and Hairy long-nosed armadillo are the species found in several different environments in South America.
They can be easily recognized with the pointy snout and small eyes. Armadillos are generally found in black, red, grey, yellow and brown in colour. They are closely related to the sloths and anteaters. The giant brown armadillo is the largest in size and can be up to 5 feet.
What Do Armadillos Eat?
Armadillos eat various insects and invertebrates including beetles, grubs, worms, fire ants and termites. They dig the ground to find insects to eat. Armadillos are able to consume thousands of insects each day. Their long sticky tongue of armadillo helps to consume insects and ants.
According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, Armadillos are omnivores but 90 percent of their diet is made up of insects and larvae.
Armadillos also feed on small vertebrates, plants, and some fruit and sometimes scavenge for dead animals. Armadillos can eat earthworms, scorpions, spiders, and other invertebrates. Their favourite food is Lizards, small frogs, and snakes, even love to eat the eggs.
They are having very poor eyesight but utilize their keen sense of smell to hunt and find food. The animal has little to no hair to help regulate their body temperature, so in summer, they wait until evening for food.
Besides that, in the winters, armadillos look for the food in the middle of the day. They are known for their ability to eating fire ants. Some of the species of armadillo live in truly cold climates. Because they cannot store fat and have low metabolic rates. Extremely cold temperatures can abolish large numbers of armadillos.
Where Do Armadillos Live?
There are 20 known species of armadillos habitat between the hot, humid equatorial region and arid deserts. Besides that, they have low blood temperature and cannot store the fat. So they will stick closer to the equator and like warm temperature.
Armadillos live in the burrow. They love staying around rainforests, grasslands, and semi-deserts because of their low metabolic rate and lack of storing fat. They usually found near water sources like streams, creeks and water holes. Armadillos eat fruits and vegetables sometimes when there is less availability of bugs.
Armadillos prefer to live in sandy and loamy soils that are loose and drifty, it makes burrowing for food and making den easier. The short legs and front claws of armadillo are perfectly designed for digging deep in the ground. It grubs dens deep underground and creates networks in tunnels with different areas for sleeping.
They often have multiple burrows situated around their hunting grounds but they are not territorial. Armadillos sleep for 16 hours a day. Many armadillos live and survive alone but some species live in small groups or pairs.
Armadillos are nocturnal in the southern regions. They keep themselves cool underground during the day and forage at the night for the food. While nine-banded armadillo has the ability to adapt to the different environment and they are less nocturnal.
If you are thinking about catching an armadillo, its really not a good idea. It may cause leprosy disease and you may get sick. Especially the nine-banded armadillo carries leprosy. If you have a problem with an armadillo in your area, you may contact the pest control or some professional related to this field.
Lifecycle Of Armadillo
Armadillos can live up to between 4 to 7 years in the wild. According to the national geography, the average lifespan of armadillo is 12 to 15 years in captivity. The offspring process of armadillo is very unique. Before the mating season, the start collecting food in dens and eat as required.
Although the mating season takes place in July, the female becomes pregnant in November. This is called delay implantation. However, the pubs born without the bony plates, in few weeks their soft skin turn into hard shell or armour.
Baby armadillos can walk just after few hours of birth. Pups become independent about 6-12 months after they are born. As like humans, some armadillos are polyembryonic and can create four identical babies from a single embryo.
Interesting And Fun Facts About Armadillos:
Armadillos are the last surviving members of the Cingulata order.
They are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath up to 6 minutes in the water.
The three-banded armadillo and Brazilian armadillo are the only species that rolls up into a ball when frightened.
Armadillos love catching and eating grasshopper with the help of their sticky tongue.
Then nine-banded armadillo can jump up to 3 feet if feels scared.
The pink fairy armadillo is the smallest armadillo in the world with a size of 6 inches long and weighs around 85 gm.
Armadillos are good at climbing. They can easily scale fences and climb up the trees.
They are extremely fast runners and reach up to the speed of 30 miles an hour.
Nine-banded armadillo sometimes causes leprosy among humans.
Screaming hairy armadillo is extremely loud and blessed with alarm-like vocalizations.
They pichi (Zaedyus pichiy) armadillo is the only species which hibernates every winter.
Have you seen the armadillo roaming in your garden or on the roadside while you are driving?……you can share your experience with us. Let us know if this article is informative and helpful for you below in the comment section…