Nine-Banded Armadillo

Texas Junior Naturalists
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(Dasypus novemcinctus Linnaeus)

About the size of a small dog, armadillos live throughout Texas, except in the Trans-Pecos. Their bony shell acts like armor and provides protects from predators. Armadillos have powerful claws for digging up meals, mostly insects and their larvae. They also dig burrows in which to den. The softer the ground, the better they dig. You may even find evidence  in your yard or garden! Although considered pests by some, the armadillo also eats grubs, which are particularly harmful to crops.

dillotrack.gifBecause they have almost no hair to help regulate their body temperature, armadillos forage for food in summer evenings and on warm winter afternoons. They make noise while foraging and are fairly easy to sneak up on. When surprised, they leap straight up in the air, to startle any attacker while they scurry off to a safe den. Female armadillos give birth in spring and  produce 4 identical quadruplets, born fully formed with their eyes open. The armadillo has an interesting method for crossing water, because its heavy shell causes it to sink. When faced with narrow streams or water-filled ditches, the armadillo will simply walk across the bottom, under water! In wider water bodies, armadillos swallow air to inflate their stomachs to twice its normal size, increasing buoyancy and allowing them to swim across. Afterward, it takes them hours to release the excess air. Armadillos are among the only animals known to contract and carry leprosy. For this reason it is illegal to sell them live in Texas. The armadillo is also the state's official small mammal.