Proof that God has a sense of humour.
- Because of the weight of its armor, an armadillo will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach with air, which often doubles its size.
- Glyptotherium texanum (extinct) was a close cousin of the armadillo, living in the tropical and subtropical regions of Florida, South Carolina, and Texas. It had a six-foot-long carapace and weighed in at approximately 2,000 pounds (1 ton).
- Armadillos are one of the few mammals that mate face-to-face.
- Recorded to be the animal with the most dreams in sleep (that is, with the most observed REM sleep).
- Armadillos are one of a small number of animals other than humans that can get leprosy.
- Surprisingly, armadillos are very agile in the water and have been known to swim for up to two miles without rest.
- Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one.”
Armadillos are small placental mammals of the family Dasypodidae, mostly known for having a bony armor shell. Their average size is about 75 centimeters (30 inches), including tail. All species are native to the Americas, where they inhabit a variety of environments. In the United States, the sole resident armadillo is the 9-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), which is most common in the central southern states, particularly Texas.
Dasypodidae is the only family in the order Cingulata. Until as recently as 1995, the family was placed in the order Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths. There are several species of armadillo, some of which are distinguished by how many bands they have on their armor. The nine-banded form cannot roll itself into a ball. They mainly run away or burrow from predators.
Armadillos are often used in the study of leprosy, since they, along with mangabey monkeys, rabbits, and mice (on their footpads), are among the few known non-human animal species that can contract the disease systemically. They are particularly susceptible due to their unusually low body temperature, which is hospitable to the leprosy bacterium.
The Nine-banded Armadillo also serves science through its unusual reproductive system, in which four identical quadruplets (all the same sex) are born in each clutch. Because they are always identical, the group of four young provides a good subject for scientific, behavioral, or medical tests that need consistent biological and genetic makeup in the test subjects. This phenomenon of multiple identical birth, called polyembryony, only manifests in the genus Dasypus and not in all armadillos, as is commonly believed.