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Hairy Armadillo

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Scientific Name:Chaetophractus villosus

Habitat: South & Central America to Paraguay; open areas; often found in semi—desert locations.

Diet: They will also burrow under carcasses to obtain maggots and other insects, and have been reported to burrow directly into carcasses at times. They occasionally dig up insects by forcing their head directly into the ground. Some individuals have been seen killing small snakes by jumping on them, using the edge of the shell to cut them.                                                        

Lifespan: Up to 30 years in captivity

Description: The banded portion of the carapace has 18 bands, of which 7 or 8 are moveable. All hairies have more hair than most armadillos. They range in size from 8.5-20 in. and can weigh up to 5 lbs. or more. They are mainly nocturnal in summer to avoid heat, and diurnal in the winter.  These armadillos live in underground burrows, and will dig burrows as an escape mechanism. If unable to dig, they will draw their feet in and flatten its body against the ground so that only the shell is exposed. This is an effective defense against predators. They will also make a snarling noise when pursued. The animal anchors itself in its burrow by flexing its body so that their shell frame digs into the dirt.

Family Life: Hairy Armadillos breed in September. The gestation time is 2 months, and there may be multiple litters per year. Generally two young are produced, usually 1 male and 1 female. The young open their eyes at 16 — 30 days, are weaned at 50 — 60 days, and reach sexual maturity at 9 months. A baby armadillo is called a pup. Armadillos can have from one to four pups in a litter. When a pup is born, its shell is soft and gray and feels like leather. The shell hardens within a few days

Status in the Wild: Most common armadillo seen in zoos, however, in the wild they are hunted as an agricultural pest and for food.

Nature Notes: There are 20 species of armadillos, the only one found in North America is the Nine-banded Armadillo. Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. They have peg-shaped teeth similar to our molars to grind and crush the insects that they eat. They have a long sticky tongue that helps them extract ants and termites from their mounds. Armadillos are warm-blooded, but because they have a lower body temperature, and not much body fat, they cannot maintain their internal temperature as most mammals do. 




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