it is my third year in America and finally I got to see a live Armadillo! It was just walking across our road and then down into the shrubbery. It is not the first Armadillo I have seen here. Sadly I have seen many dead ones on the roads. Like badgers in the UK it is far more common to see them dead on tarmac than walking in the woods. I know my neighbor saw one in her garden but this was the first time I saw a live one with my own eyes. I was just walking the dog when up ahead I saw this grey shape moving sedately across the road, too slow for a cat, too large for a squirrel when I realised it was an Armadillo I almost dropped my phone in my excitement to get it out and photograph it.
Its such a strange looking creature . An armoured hedgehog with a moles snout and a rats tail.it made me wonder how such a prehistoric looking mammal could not just come to be but still survive.
So for those of you who like me are fairly ignorant about Armadillo’s here are some Armadillo facts!
COMMON NAME: Armadillos
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Dasypodidae
AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN CAPTIVITY: 12 to 15 years
SIZE: 5 to 59 in
WEIGHT: 3 oz to 120 lbs
SIZE RELATIVE TO A 6-FT MAN:
- Of the 20 varieties of armadillo, all but one live in Latin America. Only the nine-banded armadillo lives in the south of the United States.
- Armadillo is the small state mammal of Texas (the longhorn is the big state mammal)
- Armadillos breed in July, but the embryo remains in a dormant state until November. Four young are born in a burrow in March. All four young, always of the same sex, are identical quadruplets and developed from the same egg. They even share a single placenta while in the womb. Armadillos are the only mammals in which multiple young form from a single egg with any regularity.
- Armadillo is a Spanish word meaning “little armored one” and refers to the bony plates that cover the back, head, legs, and tail of most of these odd looking creatures. Armadillos are the only living mammals that wear such shells.
- Nine-banded armadillos have a tendency to jump straight up into the air when they are startled, which often leads to their demise on highways. They are small enough that cars can pass right over them, but they leap up and hit the undercarriage of vehicles.
- Armadillos dig burrows that can be 6 metres (20 feet) long, extend 1.5 metres (5 feet) under the ground, and have up to 12 entrances.
- Armadillos have existed since prehistoric times but in much larger forms. A nearly complete skeleton of an Armadillo dating from the Pleistocene Epoch (about 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago), was found in Texas. This creature belonged to an extinct subfamily of armadillos and was nearly the size of a rhinoceros!
- Armadillos have a low metabolic rate and lack of fat stores, so cold is their enemy, and spates of intemperate weather can wipe out whole populations.
- Armadillos sleep prolifically, up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the early morning and evening for beetles, ants, termites, and other insects.
- Armadillos have very poor eyesight, and utilize their keen sense of smell to hunt. Strong legs and huge front claws are used for digging, and long, sticky tongues for extracting ants and termites from their tunnels.
And if you live somewhere that has Armadillos signs they have been in your yard include:
- holes throughout lawn, about 3-5″ wide and 1-3″ deep
- uprooted plants and seedlings
- burrow entrances, about 7-10″ in diameter, next to or underneath structures, sidewalks, brush piles, low-lying shrubs, etc.
- damaged underground wires or pipes
- cracked foundation or concrete sidewalk/driveway
- armadillo tracks: four toes in front with elongated center two toes; five toes in back with elongated center three toes; all claws visible.