View Full Version : Thursday Trivia: Armadillos

Star lover
May 31st, 2018, 07:30 AM
Amazing Facts About the Armadillo:

There are 20 different species of armadillo, all of which live solely in Latin America with the exception of the Nine-banded armadillo which has expanded into the USA.


The Nine-banded armadillo is the official state small mammal of Texas, nicknamed the ‘hillbilly speed bump’ as they are hit on the roads so often. During the 1920s depression, the Nine-banded armadillo was eaten, referred to as the ‘Hoover Hog’ as a result of President Hoovers failure to keep meat on the tables. Said to taste like pork.......I'm thinking I won't be trying to find out.....!

Expanding northward, the Nine-banded armadillo is now a common sight in Missouri, USA.

152836. Current range is in red, future range is in pink.

Armadillo is a Spanish word, translating to ‘little armoured one’, named by Spanish explorers to Latin America.

Armadillos are covered in bony plates that create their ‘armour’. They are the only living mammal to wear such a shell. The plates cover their back, legs, head and tail, composed of small epidermal scales of horn-covered bone. The plates overlap each other for added protection.

Many think of armadillos rolling themselves into a ball for protection but in fact there is only one species – the three-banded armadillo – which can encase itself in its shell, curling its head and feet inwards forming a hard ball. This tactic confused predators, even a dog cannot undo the armadillo’s ball.


Due to their lack of fat stores and low metabolic rate, armadillos hate the cold. If there are times of unusually cold weather, a whole population can be wiped out!

Armadillos have a low body temperature, between 33-36˚C (91-97˚F), a human’s body temperature is 37˚C (98.6˚F).
Generally solitary creatures except during mating, they will sometimes group together in a burrow in cold conditions to keep warm.

Armadillos are closely related to sloths and anteaters, sharing some similarities. For example, an armadillos tongue is long and sticky, like anteaters, designed to extract ants and termites from their tunnels.

An armadillos diet is comprised of beetles, insects, ants, termites, plants and some fruit. If given the chance, they will eat small ground-nesting birds and their eggs.

With very poor eyesight and hearing, armadillos rely on their strong sense of smell to hunt. They can smell things which are up to 20cm below the ground! They also have long straggly fur on their underside to allow them to feel what they are walking over, used similarly to a cat’s whiskers.

Armadillos have between 1-15 babies (called pups). The Nine-banded armadillo always gives birth to 4 identical quadruplets. They are produced from a single egg which splits in four, meaning the babies will all be the same gender.

Armadillos are able to delay implantation of the fertilised egg at times of stress; it is thought this can be delayed for as long as 2 years!

Baby armadillos have soft leathery skin which hardens after a few weeks.

Where armadillos live is dependent on soil type, they prefer sandy or loam soils which are loose and porous, making it easier to dig for food and make burrows.

Armadillos have very strong legs with huge front claws which aid digging.

Armadillos can swim well but, due to their heavy shell, they have to swallow air to inflate their stomach to give them buoyancy. They can also hold their breath for up to 6 minutes so will sometimes walk across the bottom of a river or lake.


When armadillos feel threatened they tend to run away into their burrows or into thorny vegetation where their armour protects them and predators cannot follow. Some species will jump 3-4ft in the air when they are surprised. Which is the cause of armadillo deaths, not run over by cars, as commonly thought.

The lifespan of an armadillo ranges from 4 to 30 years.

The giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is the largest of the armadillo species and can reach up to 150 centimeters (59 inches) including tail and weigh up to 54 kilograms (119 pounds).


The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo, at 85 grams (3.0 ounces) and 13 to 15 centimeters (5.1–5.9 inches) in total length. Pink varies are in danger of extinction.


The screaming hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus vellerosus) can be found in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia. As its name might suggest, the animal has long hair growing out from between its armor scales and screams loudly when threatened.


Armadillos are the only animals besides humans that are affected by Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. Nine people in Florida have tested positive for leprosy this year; all report encounters with armadillos. However, it’s not a situation that should cause panic. There are normally 150 to 200 cases in the U.S. every year, and Hansen’s disease is quite treatable if caught early. There are also millions of armadillo encounters, but since 95 percent of people are already immune to leprosy, the odds of catching it from an armadillo are small. Before Europeans came to the Americas in the late 15th century, leprosy was unknown there. That means that armadillos must have caught the disease from people at some point.

May 31st, 2018, 08:22 AM
How interesting. I guess there is no chance they would migrate to Canada since they don't like the cold.

May 31st, 2018, 08:57 AM
Opossum on the half-shell. Really make a mess of your yard too. They root it up like a hog.

May 31st, 2018, 09:22 AM
We have a LOT of armadillos on our property and they make a real mess digging everywhere. They are jumpers and have startled me a few times. They are interesting looking but overall I don't like them much. Sloths creep me out but I used to think they were rather cute. Googling images of them cured me forever of thinking they're cute.