Nine-banded Armadillo

Dasypus novemcinctus

Click to view a larger image. Click to view a larger image. mammal mammal

Museum specimen featured in the Wild exhibition
Source: Museum Victoria

Nine-banded Armadillo
Image: David Hosking
Source: Corbis

Type: mammal

Nine-banded Armadillo Nine-banded Armadillo
Image: David Hosking
Source: Corbis

Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Nine-banded Armadillos are widespread and common. The species as a whole is not threatened and is spreading northwards in the United States, possibly helped by climate change. They have few natural predators and are generally not hunted in North America.



Nine-banded Armadillos are carnivores.

They eat soil invertebrates such as grubs and ants.


Nine-banded Armadillo relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a cat.

5.4–10 kg
body 38–58 cm,
tail 13–48 cm
15–25 cm

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.

Did You Know?

Nine-banded Armadillos

  • give birth to identical quadruplets
  • can jump straight up when alarmed
  • can cross water by inflating their stomach with air for buoyancy


Nine-banded Armadillo distribution map

These armadillos are found in southern USA, Mexico and Central and South America. They live in a range of of habitats, from rainforests to grassland and dry scrub.


Other animals from the Neotropic

Chestnut-mandibled ToucanGorgeted WoodstarJaguarCotton-top Tamarin