Armadillo literally means “little armored one” in Spanish, with the critters having physical features that fit that description. The fascinating physical features of armadillos, a one-of-the-kind shell and sharp claws, are just a few of their unique traits, and you can learn more here. In this article, we consider the unusual traits of armadillos.
Armadillos are heavy eaters
The critters love to eat or, in other words, hunt for food. They spent most of their nights and a lot of their days hunting for food. Armadillos eat insects and small animals, as well as plant material. They detect the presence of the insects they eat with their nose or ears.
When they detect insects in the soil, they dig them up. Thus, they can cause serious damage to gardens, yards, and lawns when they dig for food. The damage they cause from digging is also related to their poor eyesight. They rely heavily on their nose and ears for hunting, rather than their eyes. This is a great source with more information.
They are excellent “swimmers”
Armadillos can cross water bodies applying any of two methods: walking and swimming. If the water body is small, they will hold their breaths and walk under the water. Armadillos can hold their breath for up to six minutes.
To cross a large water body, armadillos inflate their stomach into something like a large balloon that helps them to stay buoyant and swim across. The ability to inflate their stomach into large balloons enhances the swimming skills of armadillos and makes them excellent swimmers.
Armadillos can roll into balls
Their ability to roll into balls is another cool feature that comes close to their armored bodies. This ability is restricted to species such as the Brazilian three-banded armadillo and the southern three-banded armadillo. They apply their rolling ability as a defense feature, in addition to the armored body. The balls armadillos roll into are difficult to retract. Even a dog cannot retract the ball.
They have an excellent sense of smell
Armadillos have poor eyesight. Their excellent sense of smell compensates for the poor eyesight. The sense of smell of armadillos is so strong that they can smell insects located up to 20 cm deep. Thus, they heavily depend on their sense of smell for hunting for food such as grubs and insects.
Armadillos hate the cold
Armadillos have a low rate of metabolism. This is why they are not particularly fans of the cold. They also have minimal fat stores for insulation. Because they are not built for cold, a population of the critters can be wiped out during periods of extreme cold. To survive cold periods, armadillos may live in groups to achieve increased body warmth. It is also noteworthy that armadillos have a low body temperature, lower than the normal human body temperature.
They love to dig
The critters do not only dig for food. They also dig to create burrows that they live in. Their sharp claws are specially adapted for digging. Armadillos create two types of burrows: the ones they live in and the ones they travel through. To stay safe from predators, armadillos travel through an extensive system of burrows that they dig, in addition to the burrows that they inhabit.
Because they are ground-dwelling, armadillos choose habitats based on the type of soil. They prefer soils that are porous and easy to dig.
Male armadillos are polygamous
The critters are mostly solitary. They only come together for mating and, during colder periods, to share bodily warmth. When they come together for mating, the females typically stick to one partner. On the other hand, the males are polygamous and can have multiple partners in one mating period.
They have unique pregnancies
Armadillos can birth 1 to 15 young ones at once. Some species have unique pregnancies, birthing quadruplets from a single egg that splits into four. One such species is the nine-banded armadillo, which is the official small animal of the state of Texas.
With this article, we have highlighted some of the features that make armadillos unique. The critters are much more than their armored body for which they are well known.