Nine-banded Armadillo

Unlike most mammals, armadillos have little body hair to provide insulation. In part, this explains why they are such avid burrowers - in order to avoid extremes of temperature.

Nine-banded armadillos live alone, but create a large number of dens, excavating the soil with their powerful claws.

In some cases, these dens can act as food traps, luring invertebrates inside. Dens intended for breeding have an enlarged chamber at the end, lined with vegetation, which helps to keep the young warm. If they need to swim, Nine-banded armadillos can swallow air. This helps maintain their buoyancy and keep them afloat.

Distribution: South-central and southeastern parts of the USA, via Central America to South America, as far as Peru and Uruguay. Also present in the Caribbean.

Weight: 4 - 8 kg (9 - 18 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 36 - 105 cm (14 - 41 in).

Maturity: 6 - 12 months.

Gestation Period: 120 days; mating occurs in summer but embryos only start developing 3 months later.

Breeding: 4 of the same sex develop from one egg; weaning occurs at 4-5 months.

Food: Omnivorous, eating invertebrates, small animals, carrion, vegetation and fruit.

Lifespan: Up to 15 years.

Upper body

The nine bands extend around the centre of the body, with shields across the rump and shoulders.

Hind feet

The shorter of the five toes on each foot are the outer ones.

Front feet

The middle two of the four toes on each foot are the longest.

Facial shape

The face is long, with sensitive nostrils and a sticky tongue to catch insects.


The armadillo's body armour extends over the forehead. The number of bands varies between species, from three to nine.

Nine-banded armadillos use their sharp claws for digging rather than defending themselves.