Southern three-banded armadillos are the only armadillo species that can roll up into a ball, enclosing its vulnerable parts inside its shell. Baby southern three-banded armadillos are born blind and can't roll up like this at first.
Scientific name: Tolypeutes matacus
La Plata three-banded armadillo
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Southern three-banded armadillo can be found in a number of locations including: South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Southern three-banded armadillo distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Decreasing
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The southern three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus), also called the La Plata three-banded armadillo, is an armadillo species from South America. It is found in parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, at elevations from sea level to 770 m.
The southern three-banded armadillo and the other member of the genus Tolypeutes, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, are the only species of armadillos capable of rolling into a complete ball to defend themselves. The three characteristic bands that cover the back of the animal allow it enough flexibility to fit its tail and head together, allowing it to protect its underbelly, limbs, eyes, nose and ears from predators. The shell covering its body is armored and the outer layer is made out of keratin, the same protein that builds human fingernails. They are typically a yellow or brownish color and are smaller than many other species of armadillos, ranging in size from about 9 to 13 inches when fully grown. Unlike most armadillos, they are not fossorial.
The three-banded armadillo has a long, sticky, straw-like pink tongue that allows it to gather up and eat many different species of insects, typically ants and termites. In captivity, armadillos also eat foods such as fruits and vegetables.
The species is threatened by habitat destruction from conversion of its native Dry Chaco to farmland, and from hunting for food and the pet trade.
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