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Armadillo: Key Facts

Did you know that one type of armadillo can roll itself into a fully armored ball? Or that another armadillo species can grow to be nearly 5 feet long and weigh 100 pounds? Keep reading to learn more armadillo key facts like these!

Key Facts About Armadillos

Scientific NameCingulata
Number of Species20
Physical DescriptionGround-dwelling mammal covered in gray body armor. The armor is made of bone and covered in hairy spikes. Armadillos have triangular-shaped heads which they use for digging and burrowing in the ground. They have sharp claws on their paws which also aid in digging. They have long, ringed tails which help with balance.
DistributionNorth, Central, and South America
HabitatVaries by species and region. May inhabit grasslands, forested lowlands, deserts, rainforests, and scrublands.
Average SizeVaries by species.
– Average length: 3.5 inches to 59 inches
– Average weight: 4 ounces to 100 pounds
Average Lifespan12 to 15 years
DietOmnivore; some favorite foods include:
– Earthworms, grubs, other insects
– Spiders and scorpions
– Small reptiles
– Fruits, leafy greens, and seeds
– Carrion
Largest SpeciesGiant armadillo
Smallest SpeciesPink fairy armadillo

How High Can an Armadillo Jump?

When armadillos get spooked or feel threatened, they may jump into the air before running off. Though most armadillos only jump a few inches to a foot in the air, some may jump as high as 5 or six feet.

The three-banded armadillo, native to South America, jumps a couple of inches before rolling into a ball, as you can see in the following video.

How Many Teeth Does an Armadillo Have?

Armadillos have rows of short, sharp teeth used for chewing many different foods. The exact number of teeth an armadillo has varies by species.

The giant armadillo, the largest armadillo species, can have up to 100 teeth. The nine-banded armadillo, the only species native to the U.S., has about 36 teeth.

Again, the number of teeth varies by species and may even vary from one individual armadillo to the next.

How Can You Get Leprosy from an Armadillo?

According to South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources, it’s best to avoid touching armadillos with your bare hands, and try to avoid contact with their blood and other bodily fluids. This is due to the fact that many armadillos carry the leprosy bacteria.

Though it is best to be cautious, the truth is that it’s extremely unlikely for you to get leprosy from touching an armadillo. Most humans have a natural immunity to leprosy, and you would have to be in prolonged contact with the armadillo’s tissues or body fluids in order to risk contracting disease.

You are more likely to get leprosy from eating undercooked armadillo meat than you are from simply touching an armadillo. If you catch an armadillo and want to eat it, it’s best to wear gloves while preparing the meat. Also, make sure to cook it longer than you think you need to in order to make sure it is cooked thoroughly.

Conclusion

Armadillos are ground-dwelling armored mammals native to North, Central, and South America. They come in a variety of sizes, but all have an appearance roughly similar to a large roly-poly bug. If you would like to learn how to get rid of an armadillo around your house, check out his guide.

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