Scientific Name: Tolypeutes tricinctus
Habitat: Tropical Rain Forest
Diet: Primarily termites, ants & other insects, but also worms, grubs, fruit, carrion, & eggs
Life Span: Average lifespan in captivity is 12 to 15 years. Some individuals have lived 20 years or more in captivity.
Description: Three-banded armadillos are typically a yellow or brownish color ranging in size from about 9- 13 in. when full grown, weighing from 2- 3.5lbs. They have a long, sticky, pink tongue to gather up their food. They have very poor eyesight, and rely on their sense of smell to hunt. Just like the Nine-banded Armadillo can have 8-10 bands, they can have 2-4 bands. Their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th toes on their hind feet are fused together, similar to a hoof. When they walk, they use the tips of their fore claws, even when they are running. They have long powerful forelimbs and claws to help them dig into termite mounds. Three-banded Armadillos are the only species of armadillo that can roll itself into a ball. They will roll into a ball when they feel threatened.
Family Life: A young / baby of a Brazilian three-banded armadillo is called a 'pup'. The females are called 'zed' and males 'lister'. A Brazilian three-banded armadillo group is called a 'fez'. Three-banded armadillos are primarily solitary, although groups of up to 12 have been observed sharing the same den site during cold spells. They usually have 1 pup that is born about the size of a golf ball. Gestation is about 120 days Nov.-Jan. The young are born fully formed, resembling miniature adults, and can walk and roll into a ball immediately from birth. Stay with mom for about 3 months, sexually mature 7-12 mos.
Status in the Wild: The Brazilian three-banded armadillo is listed as Vulnerable (VU), considered to be high risk of extinction in the wild, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Its population has declined more than 30% in recent years.
Nature Notes: Each head plate of an armadillo is unique, similar to our fingerprints no two are exactly alike. Armadillos are excellent swimmers. They can hold their breath for 6 minutes, and can even walk under water. 3 bands do not appear to dig their own burrows, but instead use abandoned anteater burrows as shelter. They sleep for most of the day, up to 16 hours, and forage for food in the early morning and evening. The shell covering its body is armored and the outer layer is made out of keratin, the same component that builds human fingernails.