101 Facts About Armadillos


  • Armadillos are found mainly in Texas but also in Washington, Oregon and over most of the Southern United States east of Texas.
  • The armadillo gives birth to four identical pups.
  • The armadillo can run at speeds up to 48km/h.
  • A man trying to shoot an armadillo in Texas had to go to hospital because the bullet bounced off the shell.
  • The male penis is up to 60% of the body length.
  • A shell can weigh up to 15% of their total weight.
  • The nine-banded armadillo can jump 3 to 4 feet high when startled.
  • Armadillos have poor eyesight but are not blind.
  • Armadillos are susceptible to leprosy due to their low body temperatures.
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  • Female armadillos can delay the gestation period of a pup for up to 18 months.
  • Armadillos are good swimmers and can hold their breaths up to six minutes at a time.  
  • Armadillos can walk along the bottoms of rivers, streams and ponds.
  • Because of the difficulty with floating with a shell, the armadillo gulps air into their intestines to keep them buoyant.
  • The armadillo doggy-paddles when it is swimming.
  • Nine-banded armadillos are omnivores, but mainly eating grubs, beetles, ants, termites, worms and other insects.  
  • Armadillos also eat small amphibians and reptiles, bird eggs and baby mammals.
  • Nine-banded armadillos weigh from 2.5 to 6.5 kg and are one of the largest armadillos.
  • The shell is made up of two layers.  On top is a layer of keratin with scales underneath supported by Sharpeys fibers.

If you want further details on the shell of an armadillo, I have written an article you may find helpful. You can find it here.

  • Their color of brownish-green helps them to camouflage themselves from predators in their grassland habitat.
  • The armadillo can wedge himself into a burrow with its back shell to the outside.  This makes it almost impossible for a predator to dislodge them.
  • They have very sticky, long tongues that they use to find insects in the dirt.
  • Long legs and long claws help the armadillo dig and create networks of tunnels underground.
  • Armadillos are solitary creatures but in the cold will huddle together in burrows.
  • Armadillos sleep between 16-18 hours per day.
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  • They are excellent climbers and climb over fences but have not been known to climb trees.
  • Mating season takes place in July, but the female becomes pregnant in December.
  • Armadillos can live between four to seven years in the wild, but have been known to live up to 15 years in captivity.
  • The nine-banded armadillo is brown and gray with hairs that are a whitish yellow.
  • Nine-banded armadillos do not always have nine bands.
  • The shell is split into three parts, scapular shield, pelvic shield and the mid-section.
  • They have around 30 teeth, arranged in rows at the back of the mouth.  There are no front teeth.
  • The armadillo is mainly found in warm, rainy environments, inhabiting shady woodlands or forests.
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  • Although the armadillo is nocturnal, they will come out during the day in the colder months to gather food.
  • Armadillos, like foxes, mark their territory with urine, faeces and waste material from the scent glands that are on the feet, nose and eyelids of the armadillo.
  • Armadillos settle territorial and mating disputes by chasing and kicking each other.
  • Armadillos have a very good sense of smell.
  • A female can have up to fifty-six pups in her life.
  • Females produce four pups on a yearly basis.
  • The gestation period of an armadillo is five months.
  • Pups of the nine-banded armadillo come from the same egg and are the same gender.  
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  • The body temperature of an armadillo is generally between 33 degrees c to 36 degrees c.
  • Armadillos are found in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
  • Armadillos can not live in places where the soil is hard as they need to be able to excavate their burrows.
  • Some people eat armadillo with it being said to taste like pork or duck.
  • Their immune system is weak.
  • They have a system of arteries and veins in their legs to conserve energy.  Called reta mirabilia the hot blood from the arteries is cooled by the blood in the veins and the cool blood is heated up from the blood in the arteries.
  • In Spanish, armadillo means “little armored one”.
  • There are 21 species of armadillo in the world, but only one in North America.
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  • The three-banded armadillo can curl itself up into a ball when provoked.  Due to the amount of plates on other armadillos, this is the only armadillo that can curl up into a ball.
  • They have hairs around their sides and belly which they can use to feel their way around, such as the whiskers on a cat.
  • Armadillos prefer sandy soils as they are easy to burrow in.
  • Armadillos are part of the superorder of Xenarthra.  This also includes anteaters and sloths.
  • Armadillos originated in South America.  
  • The nine-banded armadillo is the only mammal believed to have four genetically identical offspring from one egg, called polyembryony.
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  • Nine-banded armadillos have been known to roll on ant hills to get the ants out before eating them.
  • An armadillo can have up to 12 burrows on its range.  The burrows are 8 inches wide, 7 foot deep and approximately 25 foot long.
  • Predators of the armadillo include black bears, wolves, jaguars, coyotes, alligators, bobcats and large raptors.
  • Rattlesnakes, pine snakes, cotton rats, skunks and even burrowing owls can be found in abandoned armadillo burrows.
  • Leprosy can be found in armadillos, with a third of the patients diagnosed with leprosy in United States come from the Southern U.S.
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  • The latin name for the nine-banded armadillo is Dasypus Novemcinctus.  Dasypus is the genus.  Novem means rabbit, cinctus meaning nine bands.
  • Armadillos are considered as both an exotic species and a pest.
  • Armadillos make several low grunting sounds when feeding or when calling their mother.  These have been described as pig-like noises.
  • Males are about 25% heavier than females.
  • Armadillos will often use burrows of other armadillo or tortoises.
  • Pups weigh 3-4 ounces at birth.
  • Pups will stay in the nest for 2-3 weeks.  At 20-22 days the pup will leave the nest, drink water at 21-25 days, and eat solid food at 35 days.  They will then eat insects at approximately 71 days old and are weaned between 90-140 days.
  • The skull, jaw and teeth are adapted to their specialized diet.
  • The tongue is sticky with rear facing hooks to give the tongue a rough texture.
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  • Armadillos are beneficial to homeowners as they eat ants including fire ants.
  • Small invertebrates are generally swallowed whole whilst large items are chewed.
  • Armadillos will hold their larger prey and tear them apart with their claws and feet.
  • Armadillos are unphased by the bite of the fire ant.
  • Armadillos have been known to tear bark from trees to get at insects.
  • The armadillo diet changes to fruits in the summer and fall.
  • Most of the diet of the armadillo consists of beetles and beetle larvae.  
  • Armadillos sometimes eat spadefoot toads, snake and lizard eggs, rough green snakes, five-lined skink, and eastern fence lizards.
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  • When foraging, the armadillo will sometimes stand up on their hind legs and balance on their tail.  They also use this position to take low hanging fruits.
  • Armadillos are heavier than water, holding a gravity of 1.06, helping them to walk on the bottom of rivers.
  • Armadillos have been seen to take mud baths on hot days to cool themselves down and to remove parasites.
  • Whilst foraging an armadillo always has an escape plan in case a predator comes along, knowing the quickest way to a burrow or tangled roots or brush.
  • Some armadillos build nests out of grass.  The nests look like small haystacks and are often used in habitats where there is wet soil.  
  • The home range varies up to 22.5 acres from just 1.5 acres, smaller than other similar sized animals.
  • Armadillos will spend twice as much time in their burrow during the winter then they do in summer.
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  • The population density in United States is one per every acre, up to two in some areas.
  • Due to their body temperature armadillos are not known to carry the rabies virus.
  • Armadillos can be a nuisance to homeowners with the armadillo burrowing in their yard.
  • Mating season is a two to three month season.  This takes place in July – August in North America.
  • There are 21 species of armadillo on the American continent.
  • The nine-banded armadillo is the only subspecies increasing in population.
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  • A group of armadillos is called a “roll of armadillos”.
  • There are nine extinct species of armadillo.
  • The smallest species of armadillo is the pink fairy armadillo, weighing 85g and up to 15cm long.
  • Nine banded armadillos can very few parasites.
  • The armadillo was introduced into Florida in the 1920’s.
  • The size of the ears can be 40 to 50% of the length of the head.
  • The size of the tail is around 70% of the body length.
  • Armadillos prefer elevations from sea level to 3000 metres in elevation.
  • Armadillos were once used in a charango, a musical instrument like a guitar.
  • Nine-banded armadillos have a salivary bladder.  This is surrounded by skeletal muscle, which is unique among mammals.  This acts as a reservoir for the sticky saliva used to capture small insects.
  • The nine-banded armadillo expanded their range from Central America into Texas in 1880.
  • Armadillos have been used in research for multiple births, organ transplants, birth defects and for the studies of disease such as leprosy, typhus and trichinosis.

If you want further details on the shell of an armadillo, I have written an article you may find helpful. You can find it here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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