Armadillos

Caroline Warms

Student
Knock knock.

Who’s There?

Armadillo.

Armadillo who?

It’s an armadillo!

There are no funny armadillo knock knock jokes, but arma-deal with it. Armadillos are small mammals about the size of an opossum or a large house cat. They are born covered with a natural armor made of dermal bone that protects them. In fact, armadillo in Spanish translates to “little armored one.” There are about 21 species of armadillo, but the three-banded armadillo is actually the only one that is able to roll into a ball for protection. Even though they are born with protection, many are killed each year by getting run over by cars. Armadillos are generally unaware of their surroundings but they have an instinct to jump when they feel threatened. They jump when a car hovers them on the road, sadly causing them to end up as road kill.
Armadillos are omnivores, with their diets consisting mainly of insects including beetles and ants, along with some worms. Armadillos have strong claws, allowing them to tear open ant nests, and they also have a specialized tongue designed to eat as many ants as possible. Their long sticky tongue allows them to eat as many as 40,000 ants in one meal. This was no surprise however, when I learned the armadillo’s cousin is an ant-eater. In a dangerous situation, an armadillo can run when it must, but they usually tend to be very slow (Sounds like me). They are also not very social creatures, as they spend most of their time sleeping (Again, sounds like me).

Most armadillos will live for about 12 to 15 years, and they will make a home in warm, swampy, and marshy areas. Female armadillos can give birth to up to 15 pups in a litter, and identical sets are common. Thankfully, the armadillo is one mammal that is not endangered, so we can continue to enjoy their presence.

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