Nine-Banded Armadillo

Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

The nine-banded armadillo is a burrowing insectivore. The armadillo primarily uses burrows for shelter and den sites, although they can dig very rapidly and may burrow to escape danger. Armadillos belong to the order Edentata, which includes anteaters, sloths, and armadillos. The word edentate means “without teeth,” and armadillos and other species in this order have reduced, degenerate teeth or lack teeth completely. Armadillos have long tapered snouts and long, sticky tongues they use to capture ants, termites, grubs, and other insects. Eggs of ground nesting birds and small snakes and lizards may be eaten occasionally. Armadillos are unique in that they are the only armored mammal. The nine-banded armadillo has 9 flexible plates attached to shoulder and hip shields. The armadillo is not native to Florida and is believed to have been introduced in the early 1900s. However, during the Pleistocene, Florida was home to a giant armadillo (Holmesina septentrionalis), which was approximately the size of a refrigerator and weighed more than 600 pounds. The nine-banded armadillo is native to the southwestern U.S.A., Mexico, and Central and South America and is one of 21 species of armadillos that occur in the Americas. Armadillos construct multiple burrows to 25 feet deep that provide habitat for numerous native species.

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