Armadillos (meaning “little armored ones” in Spanish) are New World placental mammals in the order Cingulata. The Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae are the only surviving families in the order, which is part of the superorder Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths. Nine extinct genera and 21 extant species of armadillo have been described, some of which are distinguished by the number of bands on their armor. All species are native to the Americas, where they inhabit a variety of different environments.
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All but one variety of armadillo lives in Latin America. United States is the only country where the familiar nine-banded armadillo can be found.
Basically, an armored creature is one with bony plates covering its back, head, legs, and tail. Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armored one”. Living mammals wear such shells only in armadillos.
The snout of an armadillo is typically pointy or shovel-shaped, and its eyes are small. Armadillos are closely related to anteaters and sloths. A salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo can reach 6-inches in length, and a 5-foot-long, dark-brown giant armadillo can reach 5-feet in length. Other colors include black, red, gray, and yellow.
Armadillos are not all capable of enclosing themselves in their shells, as is commonly believed. Three-banded armadillos are the only ones that can do this, curling their heads and backing feet into hard balls that are incomprehensible to predators.
The relationship between form and function
A unique characteristic of Georgia’s mammals is the appearance of the armadillo.
The shell (carapace) is composed of bony plates attached to a tough epidermal layer.
The overlapping scutes give the entire shell the appearance of motion like a telescope or accordion. Its shell does not cover its ears, underbelly, or parts of its head and limbs.
Small is the size of the head. A tubular skull is paired with a long, slender lower jaw. Each jawbone has 7 or 8 teeth, while the upper jaw has the same number.
Teeth have a single root and are small pegs.
Although their name implies nine bands, armadillos can have up to ten.
The average weight of a male is 25 percent greater than that of a female.
The presence of four teats in females makes it easy for the sexes to be distinguished despite males lacking a scrotum and external testes.
During excitement, both sexes display protruding anal glands.
It does not spray its odor, unlike a skunk, but it produces a strong odor.
What they eat and how they live?
Rain forests, grasslands, and semi-deserts are among the habitats where armadillos live. Considering their low metabolic rate and lack of fat stores, cold is their enemy, and spates of intemperate weather are deadly to them.
It forages for beetles, ants, termites, and other insects in the early morning and evening, digging burrows and sleeping for up to 16 hours each day.
For hunting, they rely on their keen sense of smell instead of their eyesight.
The long, sticky tongue is used to remove ants and termites from their tunnels, and strong legs and claws are used for digging.
Additionally to bugs, armadillos eat small vertebrates, plants, fruit, and occasionally carrion.
Facts about the Armadillo
Item description and size
A total of 21 species of armadillo have been identified by the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).
There are some armadillos that are very small, while there are others that are huge.
In terms of size, the pink fairy armadillo is the smallest at about 6 inches (15 centimeters).
As per National Geographic(opens in new tab), giant armadillos measure about 5 feet tall (1.5 meters).
Armadillos have overlapping plates covering their back, heads, legs, and tails.
The San Diego Zoo says different species can be identified based on their armored bands.
In order to defend itself against predators, only one species of armadillo can roll into a hard ball.
As for other species of armadillo, they dig a hole as quickly as they can and hunker down so that their tender stomachs are protected and their armor is the only thing they can see.
Consumption of food
According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, armadillos eat both meat and plants, but 90 percent of their diet consists of insects and larvae. After digging out ants, beetles, termites, and other insects, armadillos use their long, sticky tongues to catch them. Plants and eggs, small vertebrates, and some fruit are also eaten by them. Scavenging for dead animals is something they do sometimes.
What Do Armadillos Eat?
as armadillos prefer warm and wet tropical and subtropical environments, you can find them in the Southern US. Forests and high grasslands are preferred habitats for some types. Due to their ability to hold their breath for over six minutes, these animals can easily cross rivers or walk on clear streams.
In a birthing burrow, the female will give birth to one to 12 young after a gestation period of two to five months. Internet Center for Wildlife Damage reports that burrows can be up to 15 feet (4.5 m) wide.
Armadillos are called pups when they are young. Twin births are common at the San Diego Zoo, according to the organization.
There are four identical pups of the same gender in every litter of nine-banded armadillos, and 8 to 15 identical pups per litter of seven-banded armadillos.
It takes puppies a short time to mature.
By the time they are two to four months old, they have been weaned.
In nine to twelve months, the pups are mature and ready for breeding.
Armadillos can live between four and 30 years. In general, three-banded armadillos live around 16 years.
in places where the predators exist, armadillos are caught and killed by coyotes, dogs, black bears, bobcats, cougars, foxes and raccoons. Feral pigs, owls, and hawks can prey on armadillo young. According to one study, feral pig populations led to a decline in armadillo numbers.
There are many areas where humans and highways cause significant death.
Florida researchers found no juveniles in a road-killed sample, however.
each sexual maturity.
Between June and August, they breed. During the first four months of pregnancy, their fetuses cannot attach to the wall of the uterus due to delayed implantation.
The implantation process occurs around November and the gestation period lasts approximately four months.
Females usually produce one litter per year.
It takes one fertilized egg to produce four separate embryos.
Each litter contains four identical quadruplets.
In March or April, young with eyes open are born fully formed.
They weigh 3-4 ounces at birth and can walk within a few hours, but remain in their nests or burrows for 1-2 weeks.
After that, the young follow their mother while foraging.
A young leaves the nest between 20-22 days (typically around the first or second week of June in south Georgia), drinks water between 21-25 days, eats solid food between 35-42 days, eats insects between 71-74 days, and weans between 90-140 days.
At birth, the armor plates of the young are soft and flexible – they don’t harden until July when they become typical adult forms.
There is no role for the male in raising or caring for the young.
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