Armadillo in my Back Yard

GO BLUE! Maybe the UoM should have the armadillo as the school mascot (Defense! Defense!) I couldn’t help myself.

Easier to observe in the back yard than in the zoo, Armadillo are mammals of the order Cingulata where as ant eaters and sloth are from the order Pilosa. Both are somewhat related in classification and are grouped together in the magnorder, Xenarthra. Without careful understanding of the anatomy the distinction can be seen only by dissection. “The lumbar vertebrae are xenarthrous; that is, they have extra contacts (joints, or arthroses) that function to strengthen the lower back and hips.”1 This facilitates the use of the forelegs for digging. The distinction can be seen in their behavior where the primary method used by anteaters and armadillos to obtain food is by digging for insects and roots. I made the distinction in the Everglades Ark Epicollect5 database to make observation data collection in Africa easier.

Armadillo with a handler at the Naples Zoo. Although it is brown, it still has nine bands. Whether they are pinkish, dark-brown, black, red, gray or yellowish in color they are still all the same species.
No need to go to the zoo, this grey nine banded Armadillo was in my back yard digging for insects. Great fun to watch!
Usually a twilight animal, a pair of armadillo are busy in full daylight. It must be mating season (early summer) where the morning temperature is still cool.

Armadillos have a really bizarre reproductive metabolism.2 They exhibit “obligate monozygotic polyembryony” where each fertilized egg will divide into quarters to produce four separate embryos thereby giving birth to litters of four genetically identical young. Additionally their ovulation period can be varied depending on available food resources. The fertilized egg may stay in the uterus for about 14 weeks before implantation into the wall for the four month gestation period.

These animals were really clever in their defensive behaviors. They have “armor plated” skin on the outside of their bodies, they have a low metabolic rate and body temperature, Among their defensive behaviors they can curl into a ball shape, climb, swim and jump. They are omnivorous and nocturnal. Although they are not indigenous to Florida they are considered native to the Americas. They are not an endangered species.

You might recall another animal with similar behaviors. Check out Gopher tortoise in the Everglades Ark.

Wouldn’t It be interesting to see ant eaters in the back yard ?

Caution: Armadillos dig holes and eat ground dwelling bird and reptile eggs. Try not to pick them up.


  1. Britannica
  2. Armadillo reproduction



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#armadillo #Order #Cingulata #Pilosa #Xenarthra

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