One of the most fascinating and perhaps exotic animals to me is the armadillo. The facts about armadillos are interesting and seemingly endless. Armadillos are mammals that live in Latin America and the U. S. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals. There are 20 different species of armadillo, including the nine-banded armadillo and the pink fairy armadillo. All but one species of armadillo live in Latin America, but the nine-banded armadillo lives in the southern U. S. The average life span of an armadillo when in captivity is 12-15 years.
They can be anywhere from 5 to 59 inches and weigh 3 oz. to 120 lbs. They live in temperate and warm habitats, including rainforests, grasslands, and semi-deserts. Armadillo means “little armored one” in Spanish, and it refers to the bony plates on its back. Armadillos are the only living mammals that have those shells. They dig their own burrows to live in. They have a pointy shaped snout and small eyes. Armadillos have poor eyesight but they rely on their good sense of smell and long claws to find and dig for food.
Armadillos use their keen sense of smell to hunt for bugs like beetles, ants, and termites. Their long, sticky tongues extract ants and termites from their tunnels. In addition to bugs, armadillos eat small vertebrates, plants, and some fruits. They can be a variety of colors, including black, red, brown, grey, yellowish and pink. What’s unique about the armadillo is that they can sleep up to 16 hours a day. Armadillos are currently a threatened species. They have a low metabolic rate and a lack of fat stores, so the cold is their enemy.
Population numbers of nearly all armadillo species are threatened by habitat loss and over-hunting. Many cultures in the Americas consume armadillo flesh, which is said to resemble pork in its flavor and texture. This is a danger to the armadillo population. Currently, only the nine-band armadillo population is expanding. Armadillos are mammals which are unique in the way they hunt and live. They are a threatened species but still one of the most exotic in the Americas.