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10 Amazing Facts About Armadillos

Last Reviewed and Updated on July 21, 2022

These armored mammals are one of the most unique creatures on Earth. They are one of the only few mammals that have scales. Read on to learn some of the most interesting facts about armadillos.

1. The name armadillo means little armored one

A fitting name for this animal, since they do look like they are wearing plate armor. They are rare mammals that are covered with scales.

2. Giant armadillo has more teeth than any land mammal

The number of teeth varies between species. The nine-banded armadillo for example has only 28 to 32 teeth, while the absolute tooth champion, the giant armadillo has up to 100 teeth in its mouth.

3. Only three-banded armadillos roll into an armored ball

Armadillos are often depicted as animals that roll into one hard armored ball, but the majority of the 20 species of armadillos don’t have this ability.

Only the three-banded armadillo is able to roll into a ball, encasing itself. They do this to protect themselves from predators.

4. The pink fairy is the smallest armadillo, and the Giant armadillo is the largest

The pink fairy is the smallest species of armadillo, measuring only up to 4.5 inches / 11.5 cm. Pretty tiny,

On the other hand, we have a giant armadillo the largest species, with a claw that is larger than the pink lady. On average these animals grow up to 39 inch / 100 cm in length.

5. A nine-banded armadillo gives birth to a set of identical quadruplets

In these species, a single egg is fertilized, and once it is implanted in the uterus where it then splits into four identical embryos. Four identical armadillos are born.

They are the only animal species where this is the norm and not an exception.

Other species of armadillo give birth to one to eight offspring per litter.

6. The nine-banded armadillo can walk underwater

These animals are able to hold their breath for several minutes and can walk underwater. They do so to forage for food.

7. The armor is made of dermal bone and is covered in scales

Their armor is formed by plates of dermal bone and it is covered by small overlapping scales. These scales are called scutes and are made out of keratin, the same material our hair and nails are made from.

Different species have different numbers of bands on their armor, but all species have an armor-less underside.

8. Baby armadillos have soft skin

While adult animals have a hard shell, babies are born with very soft skin. Over the weeks, the skin hardens.

9. Nine banded armadillos can play dead

Not as dramatically as opossums, but nine-banded armadillos can play dead as well. If they are captured they might play dead.

10. Armadillos can contract leprosy

And they can spread it to humans.

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