The Nine-Banded Armadillo is one of the most interesting mammals to be found on the American continent, and it does look very unusual. The armored hide of the armadillo is a very important part of its protection from predators, and has allowed these armadillos to become the most widespread of all the different armadillos. They are found in most of Central and South America, as well as being found across many of the south eastern states of the United States.
Biology And Appearance:
Probably the most distinctive thing that people will notice immediately about the Nine Banded Armadillo is that it has a thick scaly hide. These will usually range from brown to gray, and the scales on the tail will often appear to be striped. This particular type of armadillo will usually grow up to around two feet in length, which can be supplement by a thick tail which is also scaled and can add a further foot and a half to the animal’s length.
The scaly hide of the armadillo is one of the most interesting biological developments of the animal, which combines the hard scales which are connected on bands of skin that flex and move with the scales. The hind legs are stronger and larger than the forepaws, which are used for digging and eating as well as movement.
Behavior And Life Cycle:
Like many of the interesting animals on the American continent, the Nine Banded Armadillo is nocturnal because of the prevalence of predators during the day. These animals burrow places to sleep, but will often have a number of different burrows they can use as sleeping places. Armadillos are quite slow movers, and are liable to dig a shallow trench and hide beneath their armor if they are threatened.
Because of their strong protective hides the Nine Banded Armadillo will often live for up to fifteen years. They will usually mate in a three month season, which in North America will be between July and August. It is also interesting that the Armadillo will have quadruplets which will usually gestate within four months. Young armadillos will usually feed on milk provided by the mother for the first 12 weeks, and will continue to forage with them for a further three to nine months before striking out on their own.
Habitat And Diet:
The Nine Banded Armadillo is originally from South America, where its natural habitat is in the warmer and rainier areas. However, the armadillo has continued to expand the range of the species, and can also survive in forests, and in open areas where they will still be able to burrow. Since the Armadillo was introduced to the United States, it has grown significantly in population because there are very few natural predators.
The long snout of the armadillo is used to hunt out insects in soil and leaves, and the sensitive snout will help them to detect insects a few inches below the surface. They can also eat small frogs and lizards, along with some plants and fungi.
The Nine Banded Armadillo is certainly one of the most distinctive animals on the North American continent, and is likely to continue increasing its population across the continent. The ability of the species to adapt to various habitats is an important part of its success, and the protective hide is a very good defense mechanism. One area where the armadillo can cause problems is if it does get on to the roads, as it has a habit of leaping into the air if startled, which can be particularly dangerous to vehicles and their drivers.
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