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Monday, July 25, 2016

Nine-banded Armadillo

Photo Credit: Hans Stieglitz
The solitary and nocturnal armadillo has an armored skin composed of hard, bony plates. Its head, legs, and tail are similarly protected with bony scales.

The nine-banded armadillo is the most widespread of all armadillo species. It inhabits the open grasslands and tropical forests of North and South America. Still, it is unable to survive in arid regions, such as deserts, or in areas that are very cold.

Armadillos generally spend the day sleeping in the safety of their burrows. They may have as many as 12 burrows located throughout their ranges, which they dig with their strong front claws, kicking away the excavated dirt with their hind legs.

Nine-banded armadillos will share their burrows only with members of the same sex. Each animal has its own territory, but those of males will often overlap. Territories are marked with scent.

At night, the armadillo emerges from its burrow to look for food: insects small animals, birds' eggs, fungi, roots, fruit, and carrion (rotting animal flesh). It uses its strong sense of smell to detect food. The armadillo's long snout has particularly sensitive nostrils.

Did you know?
  • The nine-banded armadillo is the only armadillo species that can swim. It does this by inflating its stomach and intestines with air to keep it buoyant. It can cross a small river or stream by walking on the bottom while holding its breath.
  • Using its long, sticky tongue, the armadillo can eat more than 40,000 ants in one feeding.
  • When digging for prey, the armadillo avoids getting dust up its nose by holding its breath for up to six minutes.

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