Just look at the beautiful design on this coat of armor. (See picture below.) The Nine banded armadillo is a study in contrasts. They can hold their breath and walk under water for six minutes when they want to forage a river. They do this by swallowing air to blow up their intestine adding buoyancy to their bodies even with their heavy coats or armor.
Only one species has the nine-bands of plating and its numbers are increasing from Texas northward to Nebraska and as far west as Colorado. Occasional sightings have been made even farther up north, but the cold weather will eventually stop the spread of the armadillo. It has body armor, but no large fat to insulate it from the cold. The nine plated armadillos do not tolerate cold weather. short periods of extreme cold are
Hunting both as a food source and agricultural pest, slash-and-burn farming and domestic dogs endanger these animals. Only the Nine-banded armadillo is increasing in number. Its home range has expanded moving north in the United States from Texas to Nebraska and west to Colorado. Occasional sightings have been made even farther up north, but the cold weather will eventually stop the spread of the armadillo. Armadillos do not have large fat reserves to help insulate their bodies; even relatively short periods of extreme cold are intolerable.
Armadillos make rooting or snorting sounds as they move, this may help them find their food. It catches its food by pushing its worm shaped tongue far into insect nests and quickly eating whatever it can scoop up with its tongue.
Important in medical research
Armadillos like mangabey monkeys, rabbits, and mice, have been used in leprosy research. The leprosy bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, grows well inside the low body temperature of the armadillo. They are the only known non-human animal species that can contract the disease systemically.
The Armadillo Story by JKFowler
Nature’s Crusaders has received a special story about meeting an armadillo. We thank JK Fowler for submitting it to us. Below is an excerpt from his story.
“Jeraldo wanted nothing more than to be an armadillo. He had seen them on their family’s trip from Mexico, through Texas to Oklahoma where their mother’s brother, Papillo, lived with his four dogs, two wives, Eline and Enerva, and three shotguns. Jeraldo’s mother had stopped at the first sighting between Austin and Round Rock and they all sat there, amazed at the armored creature as it used its extended claws to dig a hole ten times its size near the side of the road. His sister, Adalia, at only three years old, sat perplexed at the two foot long alien gracing their presence and not being able to hold it in any longer, screamed at the top of her lungs with roll upon roll of gleeful laughter.
“Look at how it moves,” his mother had said. “It knows that it is safe with us so it keeps digging as if we are not even here. But if it is scared, do you know what it does?” She had asked this with an upward cadence at the end of her question, turned completely around in the front seat to see her children’s faces. Seeing that her children did not know the answer, she quietly told them. “You see, if it gets too scared and it can’t run away, the little armadillo tucks its head and its legs into its shell, places its tail next to its head and pulls itself into the tightest ball you can imagine. That way, no one can get in and hurt it, you see?” Adalia had squealed with excitement. “Mami, I want to see the ball animal. Can we make it ball?” Her mother had said no, but not accepting that as a viable answer, Adalia had rolled down the window and thrown a plastic cube at it, smacking it right on the back of the shell. “Dios mio, Adalia!” her mother had yelled but the creature simply looked up, smelled the cube that had fallen to its side and continued digging. Jeraldo just shook his head, looked at the creature. Sensing something, the armadillo had paused, looked up from its ever-expanding hole, its nose covered in dirt and torn roots. For a full minute, it met Jeraldo’s eyes and they sat, watching each other, communicating child to creature,…”(Armadillo continued.)
Excerpts courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armadillo
Excerpts courtesy of http://jkfowler.com/2009/11/11/armadillo
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/bnIfQq
Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/dbVKAK