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The armadillo is a rather interesting and unusual animal in that it does not have a body covering of hair or Armadillofur. Instead the body is covered with a protective shell of bony armor. There are nine movable bands across the back, and the tail is covered with a series of overlapping rings. The underparts are covered with soft skin and a few long hairs.

The armadillo is about the size of an opossum and weighs from 8 to 17 lbs. Its front feet are well adapted for digging. Tracks made by an armadillo appear to have been made by a three-toed animal.

Armadillos normally produce only one litter a year, usually in March or April. The gestation period is about 5 months and the young are always quadruplets of the same sex. The young are usually born in a nest within the burrow.

Armadillos have poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell. In spite of their cumbersome appearance, armadillos can run fast when in danger. They also are good swimmers and can walk across the bottom of small streams.

Armadillos are active primarily from twilight hours through early morning hours in the summer. In the winter they may be active only during the day.
Armadillos are burrowing animals. Their burrows are usually 7 or 8 inches in diameter and up to 15 feet in length. Burrows are most commonly located in rock piles or around stumps, brush piles etc. Armadillos dig a number of burrows within an area to use for escape. More than 90% of the armadillos diet is insect matter. They may also feed on earthworms, scorpions, spiders and other invertebrates as well as on fruits and vegetable matter such as berries and tender roots. Although armadillos occasionally destroy the nest of ground-nesting birds in their search for food, there is some disagreement as to whether they actually eat the eggs.

Although armadillos are beneficial because they eat insects and other invertebrates, they sometimes become a nuisance by digging in lawns, golf courses, vegetable gardens and flower beds. Some damage has bee caused by borrowing under foundations, driveways and other structures.

Disease is another factor that must be considered when evaluating armadillo damage. Armadillos can be infected by an organism that is thought to be the human leprosy bacterium.
Last updated: 10/7/2009 11:27:55 AM