Armadillos- fascinating dinosaurs

Armadillos are expanding their range. It's more and more likely you're going to see one of these fascinating dinosaurs in your yard. Would you like to learn more? This blog post is for you!

This video is a great overview on armadillos.

Armadillos have been around since prehistoric times and that’s reflected in how they look and act.  The armadillo we have in the Southeast is the nine-banded, although there are species ranging from over a hundred pounds to just 4 ounces. 

There are so many fascinating things about armadillos it’s hard to know where to start!

Armadillos stand up on their hind legs to smell the air. Their sense of smell is so keen they can detect insects 6 inches underground! You can see their tough claws which help them to dig fast and powerfully. In this photo you can also see how the shell drapes over their top, but their belly is uncovered. They have bumpy, hairy skin and hair even on their shells. They have wonderful whiskers!
Baby armadillos are born with their eyes open and walking within a few hours. They are pink and soft when born but by the time they leave the burrow their shell has hardened. They have bony plates, very much like thick fingernails, on their body and tail. Their ears and belly are soft. Their sense of smell is well-developed, their hearing is average, and their eyesight is poor. They don't have a very good sense of taste which is probably good since they eat earthworms, insect larvae and insects- not very tasty to us!
The skin between their bands is also soft. Their bands are like an accordion. They cannot really roll into a ball! When they are trying to escape from predators they will quickly dig a hole. The combination of the bands and their powerful claws bracing them against removal make them nearly impossible to extract. I have tried!

They use their strong claws to dig in leaf litter and soft soil.  Garden beds are perfect for digging and that upsets a lot of people!  Their holes also can be a danger for livestock.  Their benefits outweigh their drawbacks as they keep insects and agricultural pests out of your yard.  

They will build multiple burrows, some of which are insect traps.  Insects fall into the burrow- it’s like our pantry! 

After digging their many burrows they gather leaves and grass to line them.  They collect the leaves and then hold them between their front and back feet, hopping the leaves backwards to their burrow.  It’s so funny to see! Their nesting burrows have been measured up to 16 feet long! 

Armadillos are most active at night in the Summer, and midday in the Fall and Winter.  They don’t have fur or store fat so they are very sensitive to cold weather and cannot hibernate.

Armadillos have long, sticky tongues as you can see in this video.

They use these tongues to grab prey and then chew them up with their peg-like molars.  They do not have sharp teeth and don’t bite.

When I rehabilitate them, I make a slurry of different high protein foods that is easy to lick up.  Because their snout is so long, I have to place rocks in their water dish and serve their meals in “lick-mats” or very shallow dishes so they don’t get it up their nose.

If you find a hole like this in your yard, you have an armadillo. You can see the shape of their snout in the hole. They will dig up to 6 inches down and lick up and chew their dinner.

They are solitary creatures except during mating season and when they are young.

Their territory is fairly large and will move on once they have eaten all the pests in your yard.

Trapping them may remove that one armadillo, but if you have tasty bugs, another armadillo will show up!

You can see here how very tiny the babies are.

They stay with Mom for at least 3 months, drinking milk and foraging alongside her.

In the rehabilitation setting we offer them the opportunities to dig and find bugs, as well as provide them nesting materials for practice.

Armadillos do not get attached to their carers and will eventually wander away without looking back. It is the same with their Mom.

They may stay through the Fall with their siblings but eventually go off on their own

Armadillos came up into the United States from Mexico and moved into Texas and surrounding states. The armadillos we have in the South came from a small population that escaped from a zoo in Florida. They have been very successful in growing their population and range and have been limited only by cold temperatures or very dry areas. They need access to water and like to live along streams.
Armadillos mate in the Fall but the fertilized egg stays dormant until Spring, when food is more plentiful. Armadillos almost always give birth to identical quadruplets! If you find a baby by itself, it is important to wait and make sure Mom and siblings are not nearby.  Please do not kidnap baby armadillos.  Unless an area has been excavated or a dead female armadillo is nearby, it is likely that the baby is fine.
Armadillos love belly rubs! They also like to roll around in puddles and take mud baths. That's why a lot of armadillos look dirty or dusty. They do not groom like other mammals so they enjoy water to rinse off. Another fascinating fact about these dinosaurs is that they can both walk under water or fill their bellies with air and float across!



I hope you have enjoyed these fun videos and interesting facts about armadillos- fascinating dinosaurs!
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Armadillos- fascinating dinosaurs

Armadillos are expanding their range. It’s more and more likely you’re going to see one of these fascinating dinosaurs in your yard. Would you like to learn more? This blog post is for you! This video is a great overview on armadillos. Armadillos have been around since prehistoric times and that’s reflected in how they

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