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Nine-Banded Armadillo

Nine-Banded Armadillo
(Dasypus novemcinctus)

Nine-Banded Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Is this the only type of armadillo?

This is the only way many of us have seen an armadillo.  
This site is designed to explore the wonderful world of armadillos.  
They are truly a unique animal.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Xenarthra
Family: Daspodidae
Subfamily: Daspodinae
Species: Dasypus novemcinctus

Common Nicknames 

 Armadillo

     

Hillbilly Speed Bump
Possum on the half-shell
Grave Robbers
"turtle-rabbit"
(Aztec version)
Pillbugs on steroids

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002
   

History 

 

Armadillos are one of the oldest surviving mammals; they have been on earth for about fifty-five million years. Its ancestor, the glyptodon, arrived long after the extinction of the dinosaurs. This creature was about six and one-half to thirteen feet in length. Today’s small nine-banded armadillo measures up to thirty-three inches in length including its tail, and can weigh around seventeen pounds.

 Armadillo
 

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Characteristics 

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) are mammals that have soft hairs on their stomach. Their most common physical feature is the armor-like covering. This covering consist of small bony plates, covered with a layer of horny skin, and separated from the other plates by soft skin, which are covered with tiny hairs. The armor-like covering also covers the armadillo’s upper body and is divided into two larger shields: one near their shoulders and the other on its rear end, with nine bands in between. (The number of bands may vary, but nine bands is the usual number.)

Armadillo’s color varies from brown to dark gray. This coloration allows it to blend in with its forest environment. Its stomach is covered with creamy to yellowish colored hairs. Males weigh as much as twelve to seventeen pounds, while the female weigh up to thirteen pounds. Their short armored legs have long curved-shaped claws that are used for digging and protection. Its long tail is also covered with bony rings.
Armadillos have a long sticky tongue, that allows them to gather insects from fallen logs and the ground. They have thirty to thirty-two peg-like molars, which are used for chewing. The Armadillo’s diet consists of beetles, ants, worms, grubs, spiders, animal matter, small mammals, fruit, berries, debris, amphibians, small reptiles, plant matter, and snails.

 

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Armadillos are usually nocturnal; they tend to be inactive during the daylight hours. However, in winter, the armadillo tends to forge for food during the warm daylight hours and returns to its burrow in the evening.

Armadillos dig their burrow two to three feet below the surface. They may have several tunnels, which can be twenty feet in length with several entrances that connect with the nesting area. Leaves, grasses, and other vegetation are used to create a nesting or bedding area. Other animals such as snakes, burrowing owls, and frogs may use the armadillo’s burrow as their home.

Armadillos do have a number of positive aspects. They consume many noxious and harmful insects. They are used for medical research on multiple births, organ transplants, birth defects, and diseases such as leprosy, typhus and trichinosis.

Armadillos also have a number of negative aspects. They damage crops, eat ground-nesting birds, destroy lawns, and may be carriers of leprosy.

 Reproduction

Mating usually takes place in July and August, but the implantation will be delayed until November.  The gestation period will be around 120 days.  The litter consists of four, same sex young, which develop from one fertilized egg that makes the young identical.  The young will be born during the months of March or April and are fully formed with their eyes open.  The young armadillos will soon begin to move around the burrow.  After a few weeks the mother and the young will begin to forage for food.  The young will reach their sexual maturity in one year.

Armadillo
 

Armadillo
© L. Arnold 2002

Geographical Range 

 

The Nine-Banded Armadillo is found from South America (Peru to northern Argentina) to the south-central and southeastern United States.  It has also been found on several islands (Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago).  Its range has expanded north into the United States, since the mid-19th century.

Geographic Region
  

Geographic Range
 

Geographic Range
© L. Arnold 2002

Habitat

 

The nine-banded armadillo lives in a variety of habitats.  They can be found in the temperate forest & rainforest, tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna & grasslands.

Habitat
  

Habitat
© L. Arnold 2002

Food 

The nine-banded armadillo are primarily insectivores, but will eat a variety of other foods.  Its diet consists of ants, beetles, other arthropods, small reptiles, and amphibians.  It will occasionally eat small mammals and birds as will as carrion.  Fruits, berries and debris rounds out their diet.

Food
  

Food
  

Food
© L. Arnold 2002

Positive Traits

They are a source of food in parts of the United States & Latin America. 
They eat many harmful insects. 
They are valuable use in medical research (multiple births, organ transplants, birth defects, and disease such as leprosy, typhus, and trichinosis). 

Negative Traits

They will damage to crops. 
They will eat ground-nesting birds.  
They are thought to eat the eggs of quail and turkey.  
They might be carriers of leprosy. 

Interesting Facts

 Armadillos are protected by plates of bony arm or. 
Armadillos can curl up into a ball when threatened. 
There are 20 different types of armadillos.  
Armadillos have long claws for digging and a long tongue for gathering insects.  
Armadillos can jump 3 ft. straight up into the air. 
Armadillos have four teats in order to nurse each young.
Armadillos have peg-like teeth.

Resources

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/dasypus/d._novemcinctus$narative.html

http://enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/armadillo/Armadilloprintout.html

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/AA/tca2.html

http://www.creativemix.com/bkzoo/army1.html

http://pelotes.jea.com/armad.htm

http://www.armadillo-research.com/armadillo.html

http://www.msuedu/~nixonjos/armadillo/facts.html


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