Armadillo is a Spanish word, means “small armored one.” They named after their thick leather armor shell in the back. They are placental mammals, their family Dasypodidae survived and remained as last of its order Cingulata. ‘Azotochtli’ is its Aztec name, meaning “turtle-rabbit”. This new world mammal has around twenty species. Many of armadillo species are announced endangered.
Their size differs from species to species, from the size of terrier dog to small rabbit. Armadillos are averagely 30 inches (75 centimeters) in length , including tail; while the Giant Armadillos are found 60inches (150 centimeters) in length. Record said that a giant armadillo weigh 150 pound. On the other hand the pink fairy armadillos have a general length of 5 to 6 inches. Their rear feet toes have five claws. Their forepaws are gifted with three to five strong & sharp claws for heavy duty works like digging. Though they have short legs, they can move very fast. They are used to swim well and under water, they can hold their breath for almost 6 minutes. Their heavy armor makes the body to sink in the water but they have the ability to inflate their intestines along to their belly with air which allows them to swim in the water. Armadillos have 32 teeth; usually have 28 incisors or 4 canines in case of the nine –banded armadillo.
All armadillos are native to America. Armadillos are found in Central and Latin America. The long-nosed species of armadillo is widely spread all over the American continent, while the pink fairy species are found in smaller areas in South America. One species, Dasypus novemcinctus, the nine-banded armadillos are widely seen in Texas, United States. Armadillos are expert diggers with strong, sharp claws. By using their sharp claws, they dig ground for foods and dig their burrow to stay. The Nine-banded Armadillos prefer to make their caves near the arroyos, creeks and streams in moist earth. Their burrows are nothing but a single corridor under the ground, having two outlets. Their diets vary with species to species. The armadillo food menu includes mainly insects and grubs. Some species live on entirely ants and termites. That is the reason for their low temperature body. Though they have large eyes, but their eyesight is terrible.
The most amazing thing of armadillos is the leathery armor. Dermal bone built plates covered in bone made horn lapped scutes in some overlapping stages made the armor. A number of rigid shields cover their shoulders & hips. There are also several bands divided by flexible hide cover their rear & flanks. Separate armors cover upper portion of the limbs, head and tails. The belly side of armadillo is never covered by armor. They are soft and furry in underside. It appears that the armor is the main defense of the armadillos, but most of the species escape attacks by fleeing through bushy & thorny narrow paths or digging quickly into underground. Only 3 banded armadillo are seen to use their heavy armor to protect themselves from predators. When attacked this Tolypeutes armadillo species often turn up into a round ball. The other armadillos have no ability to roll up for they have too many bands in their armor.
Armadillos are paired for each reproduction season and a pair shares a burrow during the season. During mating time the female because of its armor lying on their armor side down. After a gestation of two to four months, depend upon the species the female gives birth to 4 identical, monozygotic young armadillo. The young has soft leathery hide, which become rigid after a few days. At 3-12 months they became mature. They are solitary animal and do not share their home to other adults.