Armadillos are a group of mammals. Today there are 21 species belonging to two families. The closest relatives to them are the sloths and the anteaters. Armadillos are the only mammals to have a shell made up of many small plates. They are made of ossified skin.
The armadillos are found in Central America and South America. There are one species in North America. However, they are spreading more and more towards the north. There are also people who keep armadillos as pets. However, only a few species have been well-researched. Almost nothing is known about many species.
The belted mole rat is the smallest: it is only 15 to 20 centimeters long. That’s less than a ruler at school. It weighs about 100 grams, which is about the same as a bar of chocolate. The giant armadillo is the largest. It can be a meter long from the snout to the buttocks, plus the tail. It can weigh up to 45 kilograms, all of which correspond to a large dog.
How do armadillos live?
The different species live very differently. It is therefore not easy to say something that applies to all armadillos. Here is the most important thing you should know:
Many armadillos live where it is dry: in semi-deserts, savannas, and steppes. Individual species live in the Andes, i.e. in the mountains. Other species live in wetlands or even in the rainforest. The soil must be loose because all armadillos dig burrows, i.e. burrows. This is very important for the entire habitat: other animals feel comfortable in the dug-up earth, and the armadillo droppings act as fertilizer there. Many animal species also move into an empty armadillo den.
Armadillos are solitary animals and tend to be more active at night. They meet mainly during the rutting season, i.e. to mate. Pregnancies vary greatly depending on the species: the last two to four months and there are only one to twelve young. They all drink milk from their mother for a few weeks. Your skin is like soft leather at first. Only later do they become hard scales.
All species feed on insects. They also like small vertebrates or fruit. Armadillos have an excellent sense of smell. They can use their nose to detect insects up to 20 centimeters below ground and then dig them up. Some armadillos can also swim. So that they don’t sink in their heavy armor, they pump enough air into their stomachs and intestines beforehand.
Because their meat tastes good, they are often hunted. They also didn’t want them digging through fields. In addition to humans, the armadillos also have to protect themselves from other enemies, such as big cats or birds of prey. When frightened, armadillos burrow in, leaving only their protective shell exposed. However, you are not completely protected, because some predators can easily break through the shell.