The nine-banded armadillo is a funny little animal that lives in the southern part of the United States and down into Central and South America. Actually, the armadillo originates from the tropical area of South America over 3 million years ago and it is slowly making its way up through the United States. This species of armadillo is now being spotted as far as northern Nebraska and Charlotte, North Carolina. The nine banded armadillo is a brown-gray color that is covered in hard scaly skin with coarse and thick hairs. It is the size of a medium-sized dog and is often mistaken for one when it is dark outside.
The armadillo has slowly built up a resistance to the varying climates of North America. This armadillo can be found in tropical jungles as well as dry grasslands and wooded areas. However, the nine-banded armadillo prefers hot and humid climates that support large amounts of food. The nine-banded armadillo has a diet that consists mainly of insects and small invertebrate animals. The insects that the armadillo feasts on include termites, ants, spiders, worms and any other tiny bug that can easily be caught up on their sticky tongues. If insects are scarce, the armadillo will supplement its diet with amphibians, certain herbs and mushrooms.
The armadillo has a very hard and scaly outer shell that covers its head, back, tail and legs to protect it from most predators. It also has long nails that enable it to dig and use as a last form of defense and two sharp molars. A unique ability that the nine-banded armadillo possesses is the ability to inflate its organs in order to float across watery distances. The only predator that the armadillo's shell does not protect against is the wheels of a car as they are often the victim of unsuspecting drivers. On the other hand, armadillos have been known to really damage a car if they are hit going at high speeds.
The nine-banded armadillo has an unusually long mating season that lasts three months in the late summer and each litter almost always has 4 young. The gestation period of an armadillo is also long being about 4 months making seven months out of the year a time of breeding for the nine-banded armadillo. After the young are born they will live in the den with the mother for six months to a year after which they will become sexually mature and make their own den. The maximum life expectancy for the armadillo is 17 years thanks to its superb armor.
The nine-armadillo likes to be left alone, by people and other armadillos. It hunts mainly at night and is possessive of its territory. It will mark its territory like any other animal with urine and secretions from scent glands. While the armadillo may walk slowly, it can bolt if it senses any type of suspicious activity and if that does not work then they can also burrow with amazing speed and make a bunker out of the hole and its shell.
The nine-banded armadillo has been the speculation of mystery and aggravation of southern farm owners. It was once commonly thought that armadillos would break into graves for a quick meal, but this is no longer thought to be the case. Armadillos are also killed for their meat, which does not yield very much, but is said to be delicious. However, armadillos are also killed because they are considered pests for stealing and eating eggs out of hen houses. In some cases they may even try to eat a chicken or other small animals that farmers rely on.
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