The body of the six-banded armadillo is covered with armor-like scales. These scales are made of keratin, the same substance as human hair and fingernails. Across the back there are distinct bands within this plating. Despite their name they may have six, seven or eight bands. Each band is covered with grey-brown hairs.
Their head is flattened and comes to a point at the snout. On top of the head are more of the armor like scales.
Each foot has five toes. The toes end with claws that are well developed to help with digging both to find food and to create a burrow. They have large forefeet to assist this too.
Their body length is between 45-50cm (17.7-19.7in) long and they weigh 6.5kg (14.3lbs).
The six-banded armadillo is an omnivore. The majority of their diet is made up of plants such as fruit, tubers and roots.
This is supplemented with some insects, small vertebrates and carrion.
Wild 8-12 years
Captive 20 years
— AD —
South America is the native home of the six-banded armadillo. Here they can be found throughout Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Suriname and Uruguay.
The make their home in open habitats including savanna, shrubland and semi-deciduous forest. With the expansion of human habitations they have shown an adaptability to habitat disturbance. They have been seen living in areas such as timber and sugar cane plantations along with pasture.
Breeding takes place year round. A group of males will chase a female in an attempt to gain mating rights.
Following a gestation of 60-64 days the female will give birth to between 1 and 3 young.
Six-banded armadillos are capable of delayed implantation.
After 22-25 days the eyes of the six-banded armadillo has opened. Solid food can be eaten from 1 month old. They become an adult at 9 months old.
The six-banded armadillo will dig a burrow in the ground which can be as much as 2m (6.6ft) deep.
They are active by day. At most times a six-banded armadillo will be found on its own. Each armadillo forms a territory which is marked using scent. They will bite and scratch other six-banded armadillos which enter their territory.
Six-banded armadillos tend to change their location every few days.
The eyesight of the six-banded armadillo is poor and they rely upon their sight to find food.
They are able swimmers and will swallow air before entering the water to help with buoyancy.
Predators and Threats
When threatened by a predator they will curl in to a ball so only the hard outer shell is exposed.
Six-banded armadillos are hunted by humans for their shells and meat. Farmers will also hunt them as retribution as they are considered a pest. Their shells are collected to be turned in to a small guitar like instrument known as the Charango.
They may be hunted for use in traditional medicines. It is believed that placing the tail of an armadillo in the ear of a deaf person will cure this ailment.
The six banded armadillo is also known as the yellow armadillo.
Armadillos are the only other known animal on Earth which can carry leprosy and it is possible for this disease to carry between armadillos and humans.
Charles J Sharp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
By Ltshears – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11574066
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