Length: 24 - 31 inches
Weight: 8 - 17 lbs
Gestation: 120 days
Life Span: 10 years
The most notable feature of the nine-banded armadillo is its skin. They range in color from brownish-black to gray. The armadillos have leathery skin and hard dermal plates on its top, sides, tail and top of the head. This carapace is divided into three sections: a scapular (shoulder) shield, a pelvic shield, and a series of telescoping bands in the center. Despite its name, there can be anywhere from 7 to 11 of these bands. They are connected by soft skin and each band is overlapped by the preceding band. They have between 12 and 15 rings on their tail. The ears of an armadillo are very long and its snout is long and piglike. The armadillo has short, stout legs with sharp, curved claws that are very useful when it must dig for food. When crossing water, armadillos do so in one of two ways. When the water is shallow, they just walk across the bottom. This is possible because they are very dense. To cross deeper or wider stretches they gulp air into the digestive track and paddle across like dogs. Armadillos like water and tend to congregate around lakes and rivers. They are excellent swimmers.
The nine-banded armadillo primarily eats animal matter. This consists of ants, small reptiles, amphibians, birds, and carrion. It will also eat fruits and berries.
The nine-banded armadillo is found from Peru and Northern Argentina to south central and southeastern USA. It is also found on Grenada, Trinidad, and Tobago. It is found in forests, rainforests, tropical forests, savanna and grasslands.
Most nine-banded armadillos are killed by cars. They are also eaten by coyotes, black bears, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, and dogs.
Nine banded armadillos are nocturnal or crepuscular. When foraging, they primarily use their sense of smell. Armadillos sleep in burrow that they dig. They usually share with several armadillos and occasionally other animals as well. Nine-banded armadillos do not appear to be territorial. Contrary to popular belief, nine-banded armadillos do not curl into a ball when threatened (though some South American armadillos do.) When they can, they wedge themselves into a tunnel with their back to the outside. Protected by their back, they are extremely hard to dislodge. They have also been known to outrun dogs and people. One of its more unfortunate fear responses is to jump straight up in the air when startled. This can surprise a predator and give it time to get away. Unfortunately, when the noise is an approaching car this usually ends with the armadillo's death.
Young armadillos are almost always produced from one fertilized egg and so are identical twins genetically. The female armadillo gives birth to four young each pregnancy. Also, delayed implantation often takes place so that a more favorable climate is present when giving birth. They walk a few hours after birth and accompany their mother looking for food a few weeks later.
Nine-banded armadillos have an excellent sense of smell but have a horrible sense of sight.