The armadillo is a very interesting animal that is most commonly found in Latin America. They are actually rather endangered across the species, as hunters and encroachment on their land has caused massive hits to their numbers. Though the armadillo has a number of species, the nine-banded armadillo is the one that is found in the United States.
Many people do not realize that the nine-banded armadillo is actually a close relative to anteaters. This relationship becomes clear when you notice the long snout that they use to burrow around looking for prey. The armadillo absolutely loves insects, and will search around quite effectively with that long snout. They also will use the snout to seek out occasional treats such as fruits. The biggest part of the nine-banded armadillo’s food comes from insects, however.
Much like the anteaters they are related to, the armadillo has a long and sticky tongue that they use quite effectively to gather all these insects. They flick it out lightening fast, and can pick up large numbers of ants and termites upon doing so. This is yet another feature that shows their relation to the anteaters of the world.
Identifying the nine-banded armadillo is one of the easiest things to do because of the bony shell that they have over their bodies. This armor covers the head, back and legs quite effectively, and the armadillo knows how to use it. They will often curl up into a ball and protect their entire bodies when threatened. This is a surefire sign that you have encountered an armadillo.
Armadillos also can be identified by the long claws that they have on each foot. They have five sharp claws that are used primarily for digging. They burrow into the ground and use these burrows not only for protection, but also for sleeping. Armadillos spend the better part of each day snoozing. For this reason, you usually see the armadillo in the mornings and evenings when they are most active. During the heat of the day they are sleeping in the burrow.
The armadillo is often brown in color, but they can also be any number of other shades. Most often, an armadillo is some shade between brown and pink, depending on the species and where they are located. The age of the armadillo also affects how deep the hue is.
Armadillos can weigh quite a bit, and their size often surprises people. The heaviest armadillos grow up to 150 pounds or more. The smallest armadillos are really small as well, weighing in at around a couple of ounces. These extreme fluctuations in size make the armadillo a very interesting creature to study.
While the armadillo is quite the interesting animal, and they are largely harmless, they should still be approached with caution. Particularly the larger armadillos should be left alone, as the claws are rather sharp. Most often, however, the armadillo will sit still and roll into a ball. If they are near their burrows, they will sometimes make a break for it to escape the perceived danger. Usually, you can observe these animals at a distance quite easily.