Atalanta Hall

Atalanta Hall

Modified & Updated: 04 Feb 2024


The armadillo is a unique and fascinating creature that is widely known for its bony armor-like shell. While these armored critters might not be at the top of your must-see wildlife list, they are definitely worth learning about. From their impressive adaptations to their quirky behaviors, armadillos have a lot of surprises up their sleeve. In this article, we will delve into 13 surprising facts about the armadillo that will pique your curiosity and expand your knowledge about these elusive creatures. So, get ready to dive into the intriguing world of armadillos and discover some interesting tidbits that you probably didn’t know before!

Table of Contents

The Armadillo’s Shell is Made of Bone

Did you know that the armadillo’s unique armor-like shell is actually made of bone? Unlike other animals that have a hard shell made of keratin, like turtles or tortoises, the armadillo’s shell is composed of bony plates. This makes it an incredibly strong and durable protective covering.

There are Over 20 Different Species of Armadillo

Contrary to popular belief, there is not just one species of armadillo. In fact, there are over 20 different species found in various parts of the Americas. Each species has its own distinct characteristics and adaptations, making the armadillo family a diverse group of fascinating creatures.

Armadillos Can Roll Into a Ball for Protection

One of the most well-known defense mechanisms of the armadillo is its ability to roll into a ball. When threatened by predators, the armadillo can curl up, tucking its head and tail tightly against its body, creating a nearly impenetrable shield. This unique adaptation helps keep them safe from harm.

An Armadillo’s Tongue is Extremely Long

Have you ever wondered how an armadillo catches its food? Well, it turns out that their tongue is quite impressive. In some species, the armadillo’s tongue can be up to 10 inches long, allowing them to slurp up insects and ants from deep inside crevices and tunnels.

Armadillos Have a Keen Sense of Smell

Armadillos rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate food. Their long snouts contain numerous olfactory receptors, making them excellent at sniffing out their next meal. This acute sense of smell also helps armadillos navigate their surroundings and avoid potential dangers.

Some Armadillos Can Hold Their Breath for Six Minutes

When it comes to underwater survival, armadillos have an impressive trick up their sleeves. Certain species of armadillos are capable of holding their breath for up to six minutes. This adaptation allows them to cross small bodies of water or search for food in aquatic environments.

Armadillos Can Carry Leprosy

While armadillos may seem harmless, they can carry and transmit the bacteria that causes leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease. Although cases of armadillo-transmitted leprosy are rare, it is important to exercise caution and avoid direct contact with these unique creatures.

Armadillos are Excellent Digging Machines

Thanks to their strong legs and sharp claws, armadillos are exceptional diggers. They use their powerful front claws to create burrows and tunnels in the ground, where they live and seek shelter. These burrows can range in length from a few feet to more than ten feet.

The Armadillo is a Slow Mover

Despite its armor, the armadillo is not the fastest creature on land. In fact, it tends to move quite slowly, ambling along at a leisurely pace. This sedate movement may be due to their short legs and heavy armor, making them well-suited for a more relaxed lifestyle.

Armadillos Have Poor Eyesight

While armadillos have a keen sense of smell, their vision is not their strong suit. Their eyes are small and positioned high on their heads, limiting their range of vision. As a result, armadillos primarily rely on their sense of smell and hearing to navigate their environment.

Armadillos Have a Low Body Temperature

Unlike most mammals, armadillos have a relatively low body temperature, often around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). This lower body temperature helps them conserve energy and adapt to their environments, especially in regions with hot climates.

Armadillos Can Jump 3-4 Feet in the Air

Although armadillos may appear slow and cumbersome, they are surprisingly capable jumpers. When startled or trying to dig their way out of a sticky situation, armadillos can leap vertically up to three to four feet off the ground. This impressive feat allows them to escape from predators or navigate obstacles in their path.

Armadillos Give Birth to Identical Quadruplets

One fascinating fact about armadillos is their reproductive process. Female armadillos typically give birth to identical quadruplets. This means that all four offspring have the same genetic makeup, making armadillos one of the few mammals that regularly produce identical siblings.

There you have it – 13 surprising facts about the armadillo! These amazing creatures with their bony shells, unique adaptations, and diverse species are truly intriguing. From their ability to roll into a protective ball to their keen sense of smell and incredible jumping abilities, armadillos have captivated imaginations around the world.


Armadillos are fascinating creatures with many surprising facts. From their unique armor-like skin to their ability to hold their breath underwater, these animals have evolved to adapt to various environments. They play an important role in their ecosystems by controlling insect populations and dispersing seeds.

Despite their small size, armadillos are remarkable diggers and can create extensive burrow systems. Their reproductive habits are also quite interesting, with most species giving birth to identical quadruplets. Armadillos are also known for their remarkable flexibility, allowing them to curl up into a tight ball for protection.

As we continue to explore and learn more about these fascinating creatures, it becomes clear that armadillos are truly remarkable animals deserving of our admiration and protection.


Q: How many species of armadillos are there?

A: There are about 20 different species of armadillos, with the nine-banded armadillo being the most well-known and widespread.

Q: Are armadillos nocturnal?

A: Yes, most armadillo species are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night.

Q: Can armadillos swim?

A: Yes, armadillos are excellent swimmers and can hold their breath for up to six minutes underwater.

Q: What do armadillos eat?

A: Armadillos primarily eat insects like ants and termites. They also consume small reptiles, amphibians, and fruits.

Q: Are armadillos native to North America?

A: No, armadillos migrated to North America from South America around three million years ago.

Q: Do armadillos carry diseases?

A: While armadillos can carry diseases like leprosy, the risk of transmission to humans is extremely low.

Q: Can armadillos roll into a ball?

A: Yes, armadillos have the ability to curl up into a tight ball for protection when they feel threatened.

Q: How long do armadillos live?

A: The average lifespan of an armadillo is around 12-15 years in the wild.

Q: Are armadillos endangered?

A: While some species of armadillos are at risk due to habitat loss and hunting, the overall population is not considered endangered.