The Armadillo is any of several small American mammals with
bony plates in their upper body skin. They usually eat
insects, earthworms, spiders, and land snails.
The Armadillo is a very unusual creature. It has tremendous
claws, but no fighting instinct. It has teeth, but not in
the front of the jaw, except for the milk teeth that some
have during infancy. It has a long tongue for catching
insects. Another unique phenomena is their coat of armor
which is a bony plate on the outside of their body. Each
species has a different pattern for every little plate they
They all are great burrowers. They sink a hole, with them
in it, as one approaches. It takes a good man to haul even
a little one back if it is halfway down it's retreat under
The armadillo's shell is its best protection. The shell is
made up of many small plates of bony armor fitted closely
together. It is hard and stiff, but is joined across the
animal's back. This jointing allows one genus to curl
itself up into a hard tight ball with the shell on the
outside and its head and feet tucked in out of harm's way.
Few animals are then able to get a grip on the armadillo
with their teeth or claws. But the armadillo hides in its
shell only as a last resort It usually hurries into its
burrow at the first sign of danger.
They are active, running with a tiptoe trot. Their trot is
as an aged pony that is tired. They have a varied diet.
They hunt by night.
Today's Armadillos are not the biggest armadillos that have
ever existed. The soil of South America is full of larger
Armadillo bones from the past. Some of the past bones were
as much as sixteen feet long including the tail. Some even
migrated to Texas.
There are several species of these animals. The Six-banded
Armadillos were good burrowers and massive devourers of
insects. They also ate vegetable matter and were useful for
devouring carrion. One specie called the Peludo was clumsy
but it was effective in getting a snake to its armored hide
and grinding the life out of it. It then eats the snake,
and is not affected by the poison.
The king of the tribe is the Great Armadillo. It is a big
creature in appearance, a yard in length from nose to tail
covered with the armor. It even has armor on its legs. Its
claws are very long and awfully strong. The Three- banded
Armadillos had a further protection. They are able to curl
up like a hedgehog and present an impenetrable ball to an
enemy. It is similar than that of a hedgehog or the
porcupine, but it is more interesting because of the way
they fit themselves into their armor. Their head and tail
pass perfectly through openings in the upper surface of the
armor. These openings are bony doors.
The back of a typical Glyptodon was covered with a solid
piece of bony armor. The tail looked like a bunch of bony
rings. The backbone was solid except at the neck. At the
neck, there is a joint which allows the head to fit under
the bony plate. Some members of the family had tails of
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The Book of Knowledge - Grolier Publishing, 1933-1935,