Armadillos

Nine Banded armadillos

The nine-banded armadillo scientifically known as(Dasypus novemcinctus) is an armored mammal which grows to 15-17 inches long. Nine-banded armadillos bodies are covered with a brownish-gray armor of scaly plates known as scutes, these plates cover its from head to the tail, there are joints within the scutes which allow it to move comfortably. Its lower surface of the body and inner sides of legs are not covered by the armor but have a tough skin with yellow like hairs. Nine-banded armadillo has a small head with a long snout. A fully grown nine-banded armadillo weighs 4 to 7kg, has around 30 to 35 peg like teeth at the back of the mouth with no front teeth. The nine-banded armadillo appearance is not very appealing.

Habitat

The nine-banded armadillo thrive in bottoms of warm tropical rainforests and brushlands since these resembles it’s ancestral home, they also like grounds with soft soil which they burrow in. Nine-banded armadillo has a layer of fats in their inner skin protecting it from heat and water loss,this makes it very adaptive animal which can also live in scrublands or even cold and and dry areas.

Diet

The nine-banded armadillo mainly feeds on insects, its hunting is facilitated by its keen smelling sense in detecting its prey as far as 20 cm in soil and it digs them out using its long snout. Nine-banded armadillo has a long sticky tongue which it uses to grab small insects like ants and termites. It also feeds on fruits,baby mammals,maggots, small reptiles, tubers, amphibians and bird eggs.

Disease

Did you know that you can get leprosy from Armadillo? For many years, there have been various speculations regarding the relationship between human beings, armadillos and leprosy. Scientists have always speculated that these animals could pass leprosy to human beings and that they could be behind some of the reported leprosy cases that occur in the United States each year. However, they now have evidence. According to research reports from genetic studies, there is a new evidence which shows that sick human beings and the US armadillos share what appears to be a unique bacterium strain of leprosy. It has been established that armadillos found south of US are capable of carrying leprosy-causing bacteria with new studies indicating that the animals can now be found over a much bigger geographical range.

Behavior

Nine-banded armadillo likes a solitary life, that’s why its known to come out of its hidings mostly in the dusk. It marks it territory from others using using its urine, faeces and waste from nose and feet. When another nine-banded armadillo closes in its territory it chases the intruder kicking it. When frightened a nine-banded armadillo can jump up to 4 feet before taking off, it can walks under water and floats on water by gulping air in its stomach. Nine-banded armadillo is able to hold its breath for a while when closing small water bodies. It like burrowing sometimes even digging more than 10 burrows in its territory.

Reproduction

The nine-banded armadillo is a very active animal in reproduction. It starts its reproduction life in when its about a year old and continues to reproduce in the rest of its life. A female nine-banded armadillo can give birth to more than 50 offspring in its life time, this increases their chances of survival due to their predation. Nine-banded armadillo time of breeding varies with their location on the globe. This is because they are more active in breeding when their surrounding temperatures are neither too high nor too low. Those in Northern Hemisphere tend to breed more from July-August and those in Southern Hemisphere mates more from November-January. Nine-banded armadillo’s gestation period is 5 months but if conditions are not favorable it can take longer. This is because if the nine-banded armadillo is stressed that delays the implantation of the embryo on uterus. After the zygote is implanted on the uterine wall it stays intact for four months after which it breaks to four embryos and each develop its own placenta. Quadruplets are born a month later and starts moving hours after their birth but remains in burrow for 3 months feeding on their mother’s milk only. Nine-banded armadillo gives birth to four quadruplets of the same sex each time it gives birth. These young ones starts to follow their mother out of the burrow after four months and in six months they leave their mother to live on their own.

Range

Nine-banded armadillo initially originated from South America, but this species is mostly found in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida and Alabama. They are said to have crossed to United States from Mexico in 19th century. Nine-banded armadillo has spread within United States to the far North up to New Jersey within a decade. Their rapid spreading and growth in numbers is attributed to fewer predators within United States. The spread of nine-banded armadillo further north expected to be reduce due to their inability to cope with harsh winter. Nine-banded armadillo has also been moving southwards across South America into Uruguay and they continue to expand their range.