The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), or the nine-banded, long-nosed armadillo, is a medium-sized mammal found in North, Central, and South America, making it the most widespread of the armadillos.
The Nine-Banded Armadillo is a solitary, mainly nocturnal animal, found in many kinds of habitats, from mature and secondary rainforests to grassland and dry scrub. It is an insectivore, feeding chiefly on ants, termites, and other small invertebrates.
The armadillo can jump 3–4 ft (91–122 cm) straight in the air if sufficiently frightened, making it a particular danger on roads.
Information & Facts:
The Nine-Banded Armadillo evolved in a warm, rainy environment, and is still most commonly found in regions resembling its ancestral home. As a very adaptable animal, though, it can also be found in scrublands, open prairies, and tropical rainforests.
It cannot thrive in particularly cold or dry environments, as its large surface area, which is not well insulated by fat, makes it especially susceptible to heat and water loss.
Nine-Banded Armadillos are generally insectivores. They forage for meals by thrusting their snouts into loose soil and leaf litter and frantically digging in erratic patterns, stopping occasionally to dig up grubs, beetles (perhaps the main portion of this species’ prey selection), ants, termites, and worms, which their sensitive noses can detect through 8 in (20 cm) of soil.
They then lap up the insects with their sticky tongues. Nine-banded armadillos have been observed to roll about on ant hills to dislodge and consume the resident ants. They supplement their diets with amphibians and small reptiles, especially in more wintery months when such prey tends to be more sluggish, and occasionally bird eggs and baby mammals. Carrion is also eaten, although perhaps the species is most attracted to the maggots borne by carcasses rather than the meat itself.
Less than 10% of the diet of this species is composed by non-animal matter, though fungi, tubers, fruits, and seeds are occasionally eaten.
Nine-Banded Armadillos are solitary, largely nocturnal animals that come out to forage around dusk. They are extensive burrowers, with a single animal sometimes maintaining up to 12 burrows on its range. These burrows are roughly 8 in (20 cm) wide, 7 ft (2.1 m) deep, and 25 ft (7.6 m) long.
Armadillos mark their territory with urine, feces, and excretions from scent glands found on the eyelids, nose, and feet. Males hold breeding territories and may become aggressive in order to keep other males out of their home range to increase chances of pairing with a female. Territorial disputes are settled by kicking and chasing.
When they are not foraging, armadillos shuffle along fairly slowly, stopping occasionally to sniff the air for signs of danger.
Mating takes place during a two-to-three month long mating season, which occurs from July–August in the Northern Hemisphere and November–January in the Southern Hemisphere. A single egg is fertilized, but implantation is delayed for three to four months to ensure the young will not be born during an unfavorable time.
Once the zygote does implant in the uterus, a gestation period of four months occurs, during which the zygote splits into four identical embryos, attached by a common placenta. They are born in March and weigh 3 oz (85 g).
After birth, the quadruplets remain in the burrow, living off the mother’s milk for about three months. They then begin to forage with the mother, eventually leaving after six months to a year.
Nine-Banded Armadillos reach sexual maturity at the age of one year, and reproduce every year for the rest of their 12–to-15 year lifespans. A single female can produce up to 56 young over the course of her life. This high reproductive rate is a major cause of the species’ rapid expansion