Nine-banded armadillo, common long-nosed armadillo
One of the more common armadillos which digs for ants and other invertebrates with its strong limbs and claws. It always gives birth to identical quadruplets.
8-12 years (up to 20 in captivity).
Weight: 3-7kg, total length: 61-80cm, tail length: 24-37cm.
Like all armadillos, the nine-banded is covered with a tough protective carapace made up of bony plates and horny skin. It is not able to roll completely into a ball, but can sit tight on the ground and has a protected head and long tail. It has long claws and strong limbs which it uses for digging and a long nose for searching for invertebrate prey.
Southern USA, Mexico, Central and Southern America as far as Northern Argentina, and also the islands of Trinidad, Tobago and Granada.
They inhabit moist tropical areas and prairies.
This species feeds on ants and other invertebrates.
The nine-banded armadillo is mostly nocturnal and uses its excellent hearing and sense of smell in the dark. They are mainly solitary, and range widely over quite large areas.
Females typically mate with only one male, although males may find more than one partner. Once fertilised, the egg may not start development for several months (even several years) in order to develop at the optimum time. All armadillos in the genus Dasypus have a unique feature: the fertilised egg always develops into identical quadruplets.
Although many armadillo species are threatened by hunting and habitat loss, the nine-banded is still common.
Armadillos are remarkable in being the only other animals which can suffer from leprosy, which occurs in the wild populations. They do not show symptoms until they are near death. It is not known whether or not humans can contract the disease from armadillos.