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Armadillos are barrel-shaped animals covered with natural armor. In fact, the word armadillo means "little armored one" in Spanish. Most species of armadillos have rigid shields over their shoulders and hips. Their backs and flanks are covered with bands of armor (the number of which are used to identify the different species) which are separated by flexible skin covering. The top of their head, the upper parts of their limbs, and their tail are also covered with armor, while their underside is covered with soft skin and fur.
There are 21 species of armadillo ranging from very small (the pink fairy armadillo has an overall length of 5–6 inches, including tail) to huge (the giant armadillo grows up to 59 inches and weighs up to 119 pounds). All species live in Central and South America, but one species, the nine-banded armadillo, can be found from Argentina to as far north as Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois.
Armadillos are not social creatures. They spend up to 16 hours each day sleeping and usually forage for food during the morning and evenings. The diets of different armadillo species vary, but consist mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Armadillos have very poor eyesight, so they use their keen sense of smell to hunt for food. They then use their pointy snouts and long, sticky tongues to catch ants, beetles, termites and other insects in the ground.
Only one species, the three-banded armadillo, can roll itself into a hard armored ball to defend itself against predators. The other types are covered with too many bony plates to allow them to curl up. These armadillo species simply dig a hole to hide and protect their tender stomach or they scuttle away through thick, thorny brush. The North American nine-banded armadillo tends to vertically jump 3–4 feet when startled, often colliding with the undercarriage of passing vehicles.
Gestation lasts from two to five months, depending on species. However, the nine-banded armadillo can delay implantation of a fertilized egg by up to 4 months, so their young may not be born for up to nine months after mating! The nine-banded armadillo also gives birth to four monozygotic young (identical quadruplets)— the only mammal known to do so! Other species have typical litter sizes ranging from one to twelve pups. Born with soft, leathery skin which hardens within a few weeks, pups are weaned by two to four months, and depending on species, are ready to have offspring of their own in three to twelve months. Armadillos can then live anywhere from four to 30 years.
Do not try to trap or handle an armadillo. Although rare, humans can acquire a leprosy infection from handling an infected armadillo. If you need armadillos removed from your residential or commercial properties, call Wild Trappers. Our state certified wildlife trappers will remove armadillos and any other nuisance wildlife from your property via safe and humane animal trapping and removal techniques. We will also inspect your property inside and out, top to bottom, to identify the entry points and/or potential problem areas and offer you safe and cost effective solutions. Call us today for a quote or inspection.