Nine-banded Armadillo

Physical Description

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 The nine-banded armadillo is an easily recognized small mammal considered non-native to the state of Florida. The leathery  skin and the carapace of bone-like dermal plates on the back, sides,  tail, and top of the head are the prominent identifying features of this  animal. The carapace is flexible at the body mid-section due to the  presence of a series of bands of dermal plate  connected to each other by pliable and hairless skin.  The head is small,  tapering to a pig-like snout adapted for rooting, and the relatively  large ears are about half the length of the head.  Forelimbs have four  digits and the hind limbs have five. The short, muscular limbs and the  long, sharp, curved claws are great adaptations for a  digging/rooting forager. The teeth are reduced with incisors and canines  lacking. The teeth the animal does possess are simple and peg-like and  lacking enamel in adults.

Habitat

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 Nine-banded armadillos most often inhabit forest and scrub-brush areas  in tropical and temperate regions. They are also found in grasslands and  savanna regions around woody areas, but much prefer forests over  grasslands because they forage in forest litter for small invertebrates.  Nine-banded armadillos are not often found in arid regions; they thrive  especially in riparian habitats or areas with a sufficient amount of  water and/or at least 38 cm of rain annually. This association with  water could be due the increased number of available food sources in  wetter areas or to the softer soil conditions, making digging and  burrowing easier. As long as sufficient food and water supplies are  available, nine-banded armadillos are very adaptable to different  habitats. 

Behavior/Diet

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 Armadillos are typically active at night or twilight. They shuffle along  slowly, using their sense of smell to find food—mostly insects, and  occasionally worms, snails, eggs, amphibians, and berries. They root and  dig with their nose and powerful forefeet to unearth insects.  Nine-banded Armadillos travel with their nose just above the ground and  can smell invertebrates up to 20 cm below the surface. They can also  stand on their hind feet, bracing themselves with their tail and sniff the air to  locate food. Smell may also be important for nine-banded armadillos to  orient themselves and recognize familiar places, although there is no  evidence that they employ scent trails.  The animals’ reliance on scent  is reflected by corresponding development in their fore-brains.Nine-banded  armadillos also have a good sense of hearing, which the animals use in  avoiding predation or other sources of potential danger. Mating pairs  also communicate with a “chucking” sound. Nine-banded armadillos have a  poor sense of vision, which is useless except at close distances, and  they are thought to have a poor sense of touch, they also have fewer taste buds than other mammals, so it is likely that nine-banded armadillos have a poor sense of taste as well.