Description: Approximately 20 species of armadillo exist, but the nine-banded is the only one found in the United States. The term “armadillo” means “little armored one,” and refers to the presence of bony, armor-like plates covering their body. Despite their name, nine-banded armadillos can have 7 to 11 bands on their armor. There is a common misconception that nine-banded armadillos can roll up into spherical balls. In reality, only two species of armadillo (both three-banded) roll up completely.
Size: Nine-banded armadillos are about 2.5 feet long from the nose to the tip of the tail and weigh an average of 12 pounds.
Diet: They are generalist feeders and use their sense of smell to track down almost 500 different foods, most of which are insects and invertebrates such as beetles, cockroaches, wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants, scorpions, spiders, snails, and white grubs. A lesser part of the diet is comprised of small reptiles and amphibians and mammal, reptile, and bird eggs. Less than 10 percent of the diet is from fruit, seeds, fungi, and other plant matter.
Typical Lifespan: Nine-banded armadillos typically live from 7 to 20 years in the wild. One captive armadillo lived 23 years.
Habitat: They prefer warm, wet climates and live in forested or grassland habitats. Small streams are no obstacle for these amazing animals! The nine-banded can hold its breath for up to six minutes and can swim or “walk” along the bottom of rivers. Their abandoned burrows are utilized by other animals, such as pine snakes, rabbits, opossums, mink, cotton rats, striped skunks, burrowing owls, and eastern indigo snakes.