Amazing Nine-banded Armadillos
Nine-banded or Long-nosed Armadillos have armoured plates covering their heads and rumps with flexible bands between the plates to allow movement. The claws on the middle toes of their front feet are elongated for digging up invertebrates from soil and leaf litter. They use their sensitive noses to detect prey and their sticky tongues to lap them up.
When they are not foraging, these armadillos shuffle along slowly, stopping occasionally to sniff the air for signs of danger. Their eyesight is not good but their sense of smell is keen. If alarmed, they flee or quickly dig a shallow trench and lodge themself inside. Predators are rarely able to dislodge an armadillo, and give up when they cannot get through the armour.
Females give birth to identical quadruplets. Normally the young born in one year mature during the winter and mate for the first time in the early summer of the following year. They are at risk of heat and water loss, as they have a large surface area and little fat for insulation.
Nine-banded armadillos are sometimes hunted for their meat, but are more often killed because of their tendency to steal the eggs of poultry and game birds. They are also valuable for medical research, as they are one of the few animals susceptible to the human disease leprosy.