Name: the name ‘armadillo’ means ‘little armoured one’ in Spanish. It also refers to a group of 21 related species of mammals that are covered with armour.
Appearance: armadillos are easily recognised by their armoured shells and long sharp claws for digging. While they have short legs, they can move quite quickly.
Size: on average, a typical armadillo reaches around 75 cm long, although their size varies considerably by species. The largest – the giant armadillo – grows up to 1.5 metres long and weighs over 50 kg. While the smallest – the pink fairy armadillo – is only 15 cm long and weighs just 85 g.
Diet: armadillos are prolific diggers, using their sharp claws to dig for food such as insects, grubs, and ants. They have very poor eyesight and rely on their keen sense of smell to find their food.
Did you know: an armadillo’s armour is made of overlapping bone plates which are covered with a layer of horn. Most species have rigid shoulder plates and more flexible bands covering their backs and flanks to allow them to move freely. This armour is their main deference against predators – although they can also run, jump, or dig their way to safety. Amazingly, some armadillos are even able to walk underwater, holding their breath for up to six minutes at a time.
Location: armadillos originated in South America. They can be found throughout the continent and up into Central and North America.
Where to see armadillos
According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see armadillos in the following places:
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Photo credit: skeeze under a Creative Commons license from Pixabay