Armadillo

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Armadillos are small placental mammals, known for having a leathery armor shell. Dasypodidae is the only surviving family in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo is Spanish for "little armored one".

There are approximately ten extant genera and around 20 extant species of armadillo, some of which are distinguished by the number of bands on their armor. Their average length is about 75 centimetres (30 in), including tail; the Giant Armadillo grows up to 150 centimetres (59 in) and weighs up to 59 kilograms (130 lb), while the Pink Fairy Armadillos are diminutive species with an overall length of 12 to 15 centimetres (5 to 6 in). All species are native to the Americas, where they inhabit a variety of environments.

In the United States, the sole resident armadillo is the Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), which is most common in the central southernmost states, particularly Texas. Their range is as far east as South Carolina and Florida and as far north as Nebraska; they have been consistently expanding their range over the last century due to a lack of natural predators and have been found as far north as southern Illinois and Indiana.[1]

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Habitat and anatomy

Armadillos are prolific diggers with sharp claws. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The Nine-banded Armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. The diet of different armadillo species varies, but consists mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Some species, however, feed almost entirely on ants and termites.

In common with other xenarthrans, armadillos in general have low body temperatures (33-36 °C) and basal metabolic rates (from 40-60% of that expected in a placental mammal of their mass). This is particularly true of types that specialize on using termites as their primary food source (e.g., Priodontes and Tolypeutes).[2]

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