armadillo (Dasypodidae) is a western mammal best known for their unique armor-like carapace and notorious for their digging habits. Some describe them as prehistoric-looking rats with sharp shells and claws, they are fascinating creatures.

Species

Within the family Dasypodidae, there are twenty officially recognized species in nine genera.

  • Subfamily Chlamyphorinae
    • Genus Calyptophractus
      • Pichiciego Mayor (Calyptophractus retusus)
    • Genus Chlamyphorus
      • Minor pichiciego ó Pampean pichiciego (Chlamyphorus)
  • Subfamily Dasypodinae
    • Genus Cabassous
      • Cabasú Chaqueño (Cabassous chacoensis)
      • Cabasú grande (Cabassous tatouay)
      • Arm. Bare-tailed from Central America, rag tailor tatto de rabo molle (Cabassous centralis)
      • Arm. southern bare-tailed (Cabassous unicinctus)
    • Genus Chaetophractus
      • Andean Quirquincho (Chaetophractus nation)
      • Quirquincho large, peludo tattoo ó arm. furry (Chaetophractus villosus)
      • Weeping piche, hairy pinafore ó quirquincho boy (Chaetophractus vellerosus)
    • Genus Dasypus
      • Arm. big nose (Dasypus kappleri)
      • Hairy quirquincho ó peludo tattoo (Dasypus pilosus)
      • Cachicamo sabanero (Dasypus sabanicola)
      • Arm. nine-band, negro tattoo, toche ó mulita grande (Dasypus novemcinctus)
      • Mulita chica, tatú mulita, seven-banded mule ó arm. seven band (Dasypus septemcinctus)
      • Arm. southern long-nosed, mulita ó tatú mulita (Dasypus hybridus)
    • Genus Euphractus
      • Gualacate (Euphractus sexcinctus)
    • Genus Priodontes
      • Arm. giant, carreta tattoo ó big gurre (Priodontes maximus)
    • Genus Tolypeutes
      • Brazilian ball tattoo (Tolypeutes tricinctus)
      • Corechi, mataco ball, quirquincho ballor Tatú Bolita (Tolypeutes matacus)
    • Genus Zaedyus
      • Pichi (Zaedyus pichiy)

Features

Closely related to anteaters and sloths, armadillos generally have a pointed or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. They vary widely in size and color, from the 6-inch-long salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot-long dark brown giant armadillo. Others are black, red, gray, or yellowish in color.

The armadillo is a small mammal characterized by having a dorsal shell.
The armadillo is a small mammal characterized by having a dorsal shell.

Armadillos have sharp claws for a reason: They use them to dig burrows. Armadillos live in the burrows they dig, and they run into burrows to hide from predators. If something scares an armadillo, it will jump high in the air and retreat to the burrow. Armadillos are the real estate moguls of the mammal world, often maintaining several burrows, each of which can have many entrances.

Contrary to popular belief, not all armadillos are capable of enclosing themselves in their shells, their osseous system they are not usually allowed. In fact, only the three-banded armadillo can, bending its head and hind legs and twisting its shell into a hard ball that confuses would-be predators.

Behavior

In the native regions of the south, armadillos are nocturnal throughout the year, staying cool underground during the day and foraging for food at night. However, due to the relatively low body temperature of armadillos, some species tend to change their habits in the colder months and to emerge during the day to take advantage of the sun's heat.

They are solitary animals, armadillos spend their lives looking for food alone and only interact to raise or care for their young. The young of these animals become independent between 6 and 12 months after birth.

They are prolific burrowers who dig the ground for food and dig deep burrows for shelter. They prefer to dig in areas with loose, porous soil, rich in insects and invertebrates.

Habitat

They prefer hot and humid climates, and thrive in wooded areas and grasslands. Because they must dig for food and shelter, they generally inhabit areas with loose, porous soil.

The armadillo inhabits wooded areas and soft lands.
The armadillo inhabits wooded areas and soft lands.

These wild animals They use their strong claws to dig various burrows throughout their range, in which they can live and take refuge from inclement weather or predators. An armadillo burrow is about 17 to 20 centimeters wide and up to 4 and a half meters deep.

Distribution

All 20 species of armadillo are found in the Western Hemisphere. These small mammals are native to South America, and some species have spread north due to their rapid reproductive cycle, adaptability, and reduction of predators.

Food

They spend much of their time looking for food. They feed primarily at night, but sometimes come out at other times of the day, especially in the early morning or early afternoon. They detect their prey by smelling or hearing them nearby. They use their long snouts to search for insects, which they sometimes have to dig up. They also eat some plants, though only 10 percent or less of their diet.

They are mainly insectivorous animals, although classified as omnivorous animals, with more than 90% of their diet made up of animal matter, such as insects and other invertebrates. They are also known to eat occasionally reptiles o amphibians, especially in cold climates. The remainder of their diet consists of plant matter, although it has been found that most of the vegetation they consume has been incidentally consumed.

Favorite foods include beetles, larvae, worms, termites, grasshopper, ants y snails.

Predators

An armadillo does not wear that aesthetically armored shell. A number of predators, or natural enemies, like to eat armadillos. The main one is coyote. But predators such as wild cats, Cougars, Wolves, Bears, raccoons and even some of the hawks bigger and other Birds of prey they will also attack and eat an armadillo.

Some personas In Mexico, Central America and South America they also eat armadillos, whose meat is sometimes used as a substitute for pork.

Reproduction

Armadillos they are viviparous animals. Armadillo females typically mate with only one male, but males typically mate with multiple females. Mating typically occurs during the summer. The gestation period of the female usually lasts between eight to nine months before giving birth.

Most deliveries occur between February and May. No guessing how many armadillos will be born in a litter. Armadillos always have quadruplets. An egg is broken to create four identical infant armadillos. And the litter is made up of all males or all females, never mixed.

Babies stay in burrows until they are 2 to 3 months old, at which point they follow their mother outside.

Not all kinds of armadillo are capable of curling up.
Not all kinds of armadillo are capable of curling up.

State of conservation

Humans affect the armadillo in many ways. Some people consider them pests and call in exterminators to release them from their gardens. Armadillos are often hit by cars when they cross roads in search of food and new habitat. Many people eat them and use their shells for novelties such as bags.

Another growing threat to all armadillos is habitat destruction: all species except the nine banded armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus they are decreasing their population. Five species of armadillos are classified as vulnerable.

These animals are truly laborious excavators that are excellent at digging, serve as excellent insect control, and confuse and delight most humans who come across them.

Relationship with humans

Armadillos have the ability to carry the bacteria that cause leprosy in humans (Mycobacterium leprae). However, the risk of contracting leprosy from an armadillo is extremely low. Scientists believe that to get leprosy from an armadillo, one must frequently handle the armadillos and / or consume armadillo meat.

Curiosities

  • One type of armadillo - the three-banded armadillo - instinctively rolls into a ball when threatened, completely encasing its body in its armor-like shell to defend itself from predators.
  • "Armadillo" in Spanish literally means "small armed".
  • When they are scared they jump vertically 1 and a half meters in the air. Scientists believe this is a defense mechanism to scare off potential predators.
  • They can live more than 20 years in captivity and about 12 years in wild state.
  • Armadillos don't go in the water unless they have to. Your first option when crossing a river or stream is to walk along the bottom underwater; they can hold their breath for about six minutes. If the body of water is too large for the armadillo to walk across, it will swim by inflating its stomach. The inflated stomach, which grows to twice its normal size, acts like a raft or life jacket to provide buoyancy, helping the armadillo swim.

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