Range & Habitat
North, Central and South America
The nine-banded armadillo has been rapidly expanding its range both north and east within the United States, where it is the only regularly occurring species of armadillo. They generally weigh from 2.5-6.5 kg (5.5-14 lb), though the largest specimens can scale up to 10 kg (22 lb). They are one of the largest species of armadillo. The outer shell is composed of ossified dermal scutes covered by nonoverlapping, keratinized epidermal scales, which are connected by flexible bands of skin. This armor covers the back, sides, head, tail, and outside surfaces of the legs. The underside of the body and the inner surfaces of the legs have no armored protection. Instead, they are covered by tough skin and a layer of coarse hair. The vertebrae attach to the carapace. The claws on the middle toes of the forefeet are elongated for digging.
Reproduction & Growth
Mating takes place during a two- to three-month-long mating season, which occurs from July-August in the Northern Hemisphere and November-January in the Southern Hemisphere. The gestation period is four months. They usually give birth to quadruplets. A nine-banded armadillo reaches sexual maturity at the age of one year, and reproduces every year for the rest of its 12-15 year lifespan.
They forage for meals by thrusting their snouts into loose soil and leaf litter and frantically digging in erratic patterns, stopping occasionally to dig up grubs, beetles (perhaps the main portion of this species' prey selection), ants, termites, and worms, which their sensitive noses can detect through 8 inches (20 cm) of soil. They then lap up the insects with their sticky tongues.