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Scientific Classification

Subfamily Dasypodinae

  • Dasypus
  • †Anadasypus
  • †Propraopus

Subfamily Euphractinae

  • Calyptophractus
  • Chaetophractus
  • Chlamyphorus
  • Euphractus
  • Zaedyus

Subfamily Tolypeutinae

  • Cabassous
  • Priodontes
  • Tolypeutes[1]

Armadillo are any of the species of insectivore belonging to the taxonomic family Dasypodidae. They are perhaps best known has a unique armored body and ability to curl up into a ball leaving no soft body parts exposed. Armadillos have a unique way about them that makes them stay afloat and become buoyant. They are hunter gathers as they have little to no enamel or teeth to provide them with special abilities. There are two unique facts about it's life cycle and reproduction. They don't fertilize immediately (delayed fertilization) and there will always be four identical babies. They also like to burrow.[2]

Body Design

Southern Three Banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus)

An average armadillo, including the tail, usually measures around 75 cm in length, but can have a wide range of 10 cm to 1.5 m long. Baby armadillos have soft shells, like human fingernails. They get harder as the animal grows, depositing bone under the skin to make a solid shell. The process of laying down bone is known as “ossification”. The armadillo contains a hard outer shell and has the ability to curl up into a ball leaving no soft body parts exposed. Since their heavy shell makes it difficult for them to float, they gulp air into their intestines to make them more buoyant, thus making them good swimmers. They have a strong dog paddle, and can even go quite a distance underwater, giving them the ability to walk along the bottom of streams and ponds. They can hold their breath for four to six minutes at a time. The ability to cross streams and rivers has helped armadillos expand their home range. When they need to cross larger bodies of water, they swim across. Despite having an abnormal shape, they can reach a top speed of nearly 30 mph so they could easily outrun most jungle predators. The primary predators of the armadillo are bears, wolves, wildcats and cougars.[3]

Armadillo's have very little teeth and no enamel only several peg-like molars. They must hunt and gather their food on a daily basis. They primarily eat insects, so they don’t have to do a lot of heavy chewing, making big, strong teeth a waste of energy to grow. Another way that armadillos conserve energy is through reta mirabila (Latin for “miraculous net”) — a system of veins and arteries in their legs. Hot blood going out through arteries is cooled by cold blood coming in through veins, and vice versa. This means that not much heat actually goes out into the legs, keeping it in the body. This also means they will get frostbitten very easily, since they have no way to warm their extremities through blood flow because of their low metabolic rate. Just a few cold days in a row can be deadly to an armadillo. Despite this fact, armadillos are steadily moving north.[4]

Life Cycle

Armadillos have delayed fertilization which means the eggs are not fertilized immediately.[5] The female produces only one litter each year in March or April after a 150-day gestation period. The litter normally consists of 4 of the same sex. The young are identical since they are derived from a single egg. The young are born in a nest within the burrow. They are also born with their eyes open and can be seen walking within a few hours. At first they have soft skin but then it slowly hardens as they age. They will nurse for around two months but will stay with their mother for a couple of more months after. Sexual maturity is reached at about one year of age [6]


They are mainly found in South America

The armadillo family is a tropical one that is active primarily from twilight through early morning hours in the summer. In winter, it may be active only during the day. They're common in areas of loose soils. The armadillo usually digs a burrow 7 or 8 inches (18 or 20 cm) in diameter and up to 15 feet (4.5 m) in length for shelter and raising young. Burrows are located in rock piles, around stumps, brush piles, or terraces around brush or dense woodlands. Armadillos often have several dens in an area to use for escape. The species expanded its range to Nebraska and eastward to South Carolina. The expansion of the Armadillo's range east of the Mississippi River was aided by its introduction in Florida and the escape or release of captive animals. Armadillos rely on their ears and noses more than their eyes to detect food or predators. They're are not blind, but they do have poor eyesight. If you are close to an armadillo, and you stay quiet and stand still, the chances of it not noticing you are there are fairly good.[7]

The name of the Armadillo

Did you know that there are more than 20 living species of the armadillo? That's right, and all of them never lacked extensive thought when it came to the suitable and proper name for each one. Some examples can be included in the following; eg. "Big Hairy", "Chaetophractus vilosus", "Giant", "Screaming Hairy", "Pink Fairy", "Chlamyphorus truncatus".

The word "Armadillo" itself mean "little armored thing" which was named by the Spanish explorers. In Texas it has been named the "Hillbilly Speed bump" or "Texas Speed bump" It was also eaten in history such as times like the Great Depression and was named the "Hoover Hog.


Armadillo rolling into a ball


  1. Dasypodidae Wikispecies. Web. last modified on 17 January 2013.
  2. Public Television, NewHampshire. Nine-banded Armadillo Nature Works. Web. 1/10/15 - Dateofaccess.
  3. Armadillo Facts Armadillo fact file. Web. Date of access 1/2/15.
  4. Open crypt membership. Armadillo A-Z Animals. Web. Date of access 1/2/15.
  5. Wildlife, Georgia. [1] University of Georgia. Web. 1/10/15 - Dateofaccess.
  6. Public Television, NewHampshire. Nine-banded Armadillo Nature Works. Web. 1/10/15 - Dateofaccess.
  7. Georgia, University. [2] Nine-banded Armadillo. Web. Dateofaccess - 1/10/15.