Everything You Need to Know
There are 20 species of armadillos, grouped in nine genera and distributed through America from Argentina to the south-eastern corner of the United States.
The best-known is the nine-banded armadillo that ranges northwards from South America into Kansas and Missouri in the United States. It has been studied in detail because it is of economic importance, eating eggs, undermining buildings, and starting erosion on the one hand, but on the other it kills undesirable insects and snakes.
The largest is the giant armadillo of the forests of eastern South America which has a 3 ft body and can weigh as much as 130 pounds. It is unusual in having up to a hundred small teeth, more than twice the normal complement for a mammal. The naked-tailed armadillos of central and southern America have five large claws on the front feet. The middle claw is especially large and sickle-shaped. The three-banded armadillo or apara, of Bolivia, Matto Grosso, Argentina and Brazil is the only one able to roll up, and the seperation of the armor from the skin means there is room for the head, legs and tail when it does so.
The fairy armadillo of the plains of western Argentina is a strange creature. It has less armor than the other species. The armor is made up of bands hinged together and covering the back only. Attachment to the body is limited to a narrow ridge of flesh running down the spine. There is another flat shield consisting of a single plate covering the rump; the armored tail sticks through this. The rest of the body is covered with a fine, soft, white fur. The fairy armadillo is mole-like, having powerful front legs, and small eyes. It spends more time underground than other armadillos.
The pygmy armadillo, pichi, or pichiciego, that lives in Patagonia and the Argentine pampas, is said to hibernate, but there has been no confirmation of an early report on this habit.
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