Diversity and Distribution
Armadillos are a group of animals that contain 20 different species. They can be found from South America all the way up to the southern part of the United States. The most common armadillo Dasypus novemcintus, the nine-banded armadillo, can be found from the southern part of the United States all the way to Peru and the northwestern part of the South American. The Dasypus kappleri or great long-nosed armadillo is found east of the Andes Mountains in the countries of Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil. The Dasypus pilosus or hairy long-nosed armadillo is isolated and only found in the mountains of southern Peru. The seven banded armadillo or Dasypus septemcinctus is found in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and the northern part of Argentina.
The Dasypus hybridus or southern long-nosed armadillo is found in southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. The many other species of armadillos are found throughout lower central America and South America.(Bonato,2008)
Armadillos are very unique mammals. They can range in size from 5 inches to 5 feet in length. They also can weight from 3 ounces to 120 pounds. Armadillos have short and strong legs that are adapted to burrowing or digging. Their legs are very muscular and can be used very efficiently for swimming. Armadillos have four toes present on their front feet and five toes on their hind feet.(McDonough,1997) They walk on the tips of their feet and only leave three-toed tracks that are often mistaken for bird tracks. All of the armadillo’s toes contain claws that are very distinct and well developed and aid the creatures to be fast and efficient diggers. They use their ability to dig to avoid trouble from predators and shelter, but they also use their claws to dig up food sources such as insects in a dead log.
All species of armadillos have shells that cover their back from below their heads to the beginning of their tail. These shells are composed of plates of true bone and vary in structure between species. Armadillo species are often identified by the arrangement of plates on their back. Most of the species of armadillos also have rings of bone or additional plates that cover their tail. The color of the shells can vary from a dark brown to a yellowish-brown and are often conducive to their environment. The shell of the armadillo prevents them from being flexible and armadillos often have to use their speed and digging ability to remove themselves form harm’s way. Only one species of armadillos, the three-banded armadillos, can actually rolls themselves into ball which is commonly associated with armadillos. The skin of armadillos can best be described as scaly and is also tough. Most armadillos grow a very small amount of hair as compared to a lot of other mammals. The hair that armadillos do grow is usually found on their underside and is pale yellowish in appearance. (Bonito, 2008)
Armadillos have very large ears as compared to the size of their head, this is due to the fact that armadillos have to use their sense of hearing and smell for defense and hunting because they have very small eyes and poor eyesight. The teeth of armadillos are square and peg like. They are similar to the molars of other mammals and have large gaps between them. They also do not have the enamel coating on their teeth that is found on other mammals. Armadillos also have a large snout that is used to be very efficient in eating and sniffing out potential food. They also have long tongues that are sticky which is also useful for eating and catching the organisms that compose an armadillo’s diet.
The habitats of armadillos can vary greatly. Since armadillos sleep and seek protection in burrows and are prolific diggers they are usually found in greater densities in areas that have soil that is easier to dig. They also are more common in areas that contain trees and foliage. (Loughry, 2002) This can be attributed to the fact that they...
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