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Armadillo -- Official Mascot of Texas

Types of Armadillos In the U.S. and What They Eat

There are twenty some different species of armadillos, but only the 9 banded armadillo lives in Texas. – or for that matter, anywhere in the United States. About the size of a very large housecat and weighing as much as 18 pounds, armadillos eat grubs, spiders, insects, earthworms, and smaller reptiles and amphibians, so armadillos can be quite useful in keeping the supply of unwanted critters down. They even eat ants, including fire ants. Anything that destroys or removes fire ants makes points with me.

9-Banded armadillo

9-Banded armadillo

Unusual Armadillo Characteristics

Armadillos are mammals with some unusual characteristics. When they give birth, there are always 4 babies and those babies are always the same sex. They are identical quadruplets because the fertilized egg splits into quarters.

If that is not unusual enough, armadillos can willfully delay implantation of a fertilized egg when they are in a stressful situation, and they can do that for a very long time. Weird Facts.com reports that at least one captured female delayed implantation of a fertilized egg so that she did not give birth for 2 years! The normal gestation period for armadillos is 8-9 months.

Weird Facts.com also states that an armadillo’s sex organs remain active even after being separated, or “disconnected” from the armadillo. There was no explanation of this statement, and maybe that is just as well . . .

3-Banded Armadillo rolled into a ball to protect it's soft underbelly from predators.

3-Banded Armadillo rolled into a ball to protect it's soft underbelly from predators.

Armadillo Defenses Against Predators

When an armadillo is frightened, it sometimes jumps into the air in an effort to scare predators. If that fails it will run like . . . crazy, and attempt to find a secure hiding place. Failing that, it will sometimes fall down dead – pretend dead, that is. So if you see an armadillo lying on it’s back with feet in the air, it may not be what it looks like. It is an armadillo, but not a dead armadillo – necessarily.

Armadillos loose teeth throughout their lives, but still have about a hundred teeth at any given time. Do not put your fingers in their mouth.

The three-banded armadillo is the only member of the species that can roll itself up into a ball in order to protect its soft underbelly from predators. The carapace, or shell, which is the armadillo’s main defense against predators, is made of a combination of bone and tough tissue coating that includes approximately 2,000 scales that are composed of keratin, which is a protein.

How Stuff Works explains, “The carapace is divided into the anterior scapular shield over its forequarters and the posterior pelvic shield over its hindquarters. Between those two shields are a series of bands that vary depending on the armadillo species. These softer bands look like an accordion and allow for mobility. In most armadillos, the two shields are attached to the skin on all sides.”

It is a little different for the three-banded armadillo. “Its shields are unattached along its lateral sides, and it has extra room between the skin and the shell for tucking in [it’s appendages – tail, legs, etc.]. Other armadillos can hunch over to attempt to conceal most of their abdomens, but their shields provide no space for retracting their limbs,” (HowStuffWorks.com).

Armadillos Can Walk Under the Water

Armadillos can stop breathing for as long as 6 minutes at a time, and they can walk under the water. They do not swim, but will walk under the water on the bottom of a lake or stream to get to the other side.

I have read that armadillos can be housebroken. Having an armadillo for a live-in pet could be the healthy way to keep your home insect free in lieu of pesticides and insecticides. Although armadillos are the only animal other than humans that can contract leprosy, and it is possible to get that disease from an armadillo.

Armadillo with a long tongue for reaching insects and ants in difficult places.

Armadillo with a long tongue for reaching insects and ants in difficult places.

Armadillos Became the Official Mascot of Texas In 1981

The armadillo has been a popular Texas souvenir since before the 1900s – not the real animal, but items shaped and painted like armadillos, or items having armadillos painted on them.

In the 1970s armadillo racing became popular entertainment not only in Texas, but all over the world. That remains true today. If you would like to observe some armadillo races, there is a short video of an armadillo race at the end of this hub.

The armadillo became the official mascot for the state of Texas in 1981 by executive decree. Bill Clements, governor of Texas at the time, signed the order because the Texas Legislature was not keen on making the armadillo the official state animal of Texas, and so they voted the attempt down.

Armadillo Race

Comments

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on August 29, 2018:

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Peggy Woods, thank you for revisiting this article. Yes, armadillos are very unique and interesting animals!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 21, 2018:

Thought that it was time to share this article once again since I see that the last comment was made 3 years ago. Armadillos are interesting creatures!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 26, 2015:

Peggy W, thank you for coming back. Yes, I had one person share another hubber's hub and it came through the feed 20 times in a row! Started out they were coming through 8 at a time, but it kept getting more and more. Hopefully it's fixed.

Weather is bad still, though thankfully the ice has melted and hopefully won't come back. To be 20 or less in the morning. :(

Hope all is well there. Thank you for checking back.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 25, 2015:

I don't think that the share went through the other day...or perhaps it did multiple times. Hopefully that glitch is now repaired so will share this once again.

Sorry your weather is so bad up there right now. Try to be safe! Hopefully it will warm up soon.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 21, 2015:

Peggy W, thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts on this article and for the share. I don't think I've ever seen a live armadillo in all the years I've lived here.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 20, 2015:

Several months ago when we were getting some heavy rain and some streets were flooded, it made the local news that a policeman stopped traffic to let an armadillo safely get across a road. He must have been a real animal lover and the fact that the armadillo was out during the day was most probably because his normal haunt was perhaps flooded. Normally they roam about at night and are seldom seen during the day (unless dead on the side of a road). Sharing once again.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 01, 2014:

Thank you for coming by Deborah-Diane, and for sharing this article. These little guys are very helpful in keeping pests away, although they can make a mess of a yard digging up grubs.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on March 30, 2014:

With the weather warming up, people in states like Texas will be seeing more Armadillos. I thought I would re-share this, because most people know so little about these fascinating animals!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 16, 2014:

Peggy W, thank you for pinning this article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2014:

Going to pin this informative hub to my Amazing HubPages board. These are certainly interesting creatures!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 23, 2013:

Thank you for stopping in Glenda. Haven't seen you for a while. Hope all is well with you. We're having a cold snap here, but otherwise everything is pretty much as usual. Just too much to do!