Learn all about the armadillo! The most well known of the 20 different species of armadillo are the nine banded species.
The most well known of the 20 different species of armadillo are the nine banded species. It is found distributed North from South America into Kansas and Missouri in the United States. Although this armadillo has been somewhat of a problem from time to time it is also known to kill undesirable insects and snakes. In the forest of eastern South America the largest of the armadillos thrive. The giant armadillo has a body that is 3 feet long and has been known to weigh as much a 130 pounds. Unlike most armadillos, it has hundreds of small teeth, which is more than twice the normal amount for a mammal. Another species, the naked tailed armadillo, lives in Central and South America. They have five large claws on the front feet with the middle claw being sickle shaped and extra large.
The only armadillo that can roll up in a ball hiding its head, legs and tail, is the three-banded armadillo. This creature can be found in Bolivia, Matto Grosso, Argentina and Brazil. The reason it can do this so effectively is because its carapace is separated from the skin around the sides of the body. On the plains of western Argentina the fairy armadillo is found bearing much less armor than most armadillos. In fact these creatures almost appear mole like and spends more time underground than most of this species. There is also the pygmy armadillo that is the only one of the species that is said to hibernate. The pygmy is found in Patagonia and the Argentine pampas.
Most armadillos are nocturnal, living in burrows when not active. They are seen both in groups and alone. The burrows are approximately three feet deep and are a single tunnel rather than branched. All armadillos find no obstacle with water. Even though they are weighed down with their coats of armor they will swallow air to blow up the intestines. This gives them added buoyancy and some, such as the nine banded armadillo are know to stay submerged to as much as six minutes. In most cases the hind feet are press to the ground but the fore feet are raised up on their strong, pointed claws. They live on a variety of foods including plants, carrion, snakes, lizards, insects and other invertebrates. The giant armadillo has even been known to dig into graves to eat the corpse. The naked tailed armadillo lives mostly on ants and termites. Body armor on animals is usually made of compressed hair, but in the case of the armadillo it is made up of small plates of bone covered by a layer of horny skin and separated by soft skin from which sparse hairs grow.
In most species of this animal the breeding habits are not well known. The home range is marked by the male with urine. Most mate in July and August with the female lying on her back during courtship. The female will supply a single egg that is fertilized by the male. It remains in the female’s uterus for some time before becoming embedded in the uterine wall so development can continue. This process is known as delayed implantation and gestation will usually take about 120 days. Between one and four identical young are born in a litter. Young are born with a soft leathery skin that hardens within a few days. Such multiples births as this are accidental and rare in most mammals. But with the armadillo this is the natural process of regeneration.