Armadillo

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Armadillo

Armadillos inhabit a variety of habitats, including grasslands, rainforests, deserts, swamps, and mountains in Central and South America. One species, the nine-banded armadillo, is found in the central United States. Armadillos feed mainly on insects, particularly termites and ants, although they also eat plants and fruit. Their average lifespan ranges from 9 to 23 years, depending on their species.


Content List

1. Scientific & Common Names

2. Characteristics

a. Breeding

b. Behavior

3. History

4. Present Status

5. References


Scientific & Common Names

Armadillos belong to the Dasypodidae family. There are 20 species of armadillos, including the nine-banded armadillo, the giant armadillo, the common long-nosed armadillo, and the Brazilian three-banded armadillo.


Characteristics

Armadillos vary widely in terms of size and coloring, but all species have bony armor covering their body. They also have a pointy snout, small eyes, powerful legs, and long front claws which help them dig. Their sticky tongues help them catch insects. Armadillos come in a variety of colors, including brown, salmon, yellow, gray, and red. Adult armadillos range in size from 5 to 59 inches and weigh between 3 ounces and 120 pounds.


Breeding

Most armadillo species breed beginning in spring or summer. The length of gestation and the number of offspring in a litter depend on the species, although the litter size is typically one to three for many species. Mothers help care for their young until they are old enough to forage on their own.


Behavior

Three-banded armadillos can curl up into a ball when threatened, which protects them from predators. Other species are not able to do this, although their armor still provides considerable protection. They sleep most of the day in burrows that they dig with their claws. Armadillos rely on their strong sense of smell to find prey. They also possess poor eyesight.


History

Armadillos are still found in much of their native range, although some species are now endangered. Over the years, armadillos have been viewed as pests, which has led to local declines in agricultural areas.


Present Status

No armadillo species are currently listed as Endangered, although giant armadillos and pink fairy armadillos were once considered endangered until their numbers increased. Some species are listed as Near Threatened or Vulnerable, while others have a status of Least Concern. For other species, there is not enough data to determine a classification. The main threats to armadillos include habitat loss and being hunted for food.


References

   http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Dasypodidae/
   http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/armadillo/
   http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/18144/0