The nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus, is a medium-size, armored mammal that is mostly nocturnal and lives in a great deal of the Americas. It is fairly common throughout Florida except for the Keys, Everglades and Big Cypress swamp.
1: They come in quadruplets.
Nine-banded armadillos nearly always have litters of four babies, identical quadruplets. Armadillo babies look very much like adults, but are smaller and softer than their armored parents.
2: They’re little leapers.
When startled or scared, these armadillos can jump four to five feet high. Usually this surprises any creature trying to have it for lunch. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work so well when startled by a moving car, which is why they are common road kill.
3: Bugs and grubs are on the menu.
These guys are insectivores. They mostly eat bugs, beetles, grubs, worms, spiders and termites. Once in a while they do eat fungus, fruits and seeds, as well as some carrion. But they love bugs the most.
4: Come on in, the water’s fine.
These little armored mammals are actually good swimmers when they need to be. They can also hold their breath for up to six minutes and are really skilled at walking underwater to cross streams.
5: They can carry leprosy.
Although armadillos are pretty healthy for wild animals, they are connected to leprosy. They don’t carry many common parasites, and rabies in armadillos is very rare, but there is some danger of them transmitting leprosy. They were found to be excellent test subjects for studying the disease, and now there are a growing number of confirmed cases where wild armadillos have spread leprosy to humans. So, don’t handle the wildlife!
• Find out more from University of Florida IFAS.
• Learn more about the mammal collection at the Florida Museum.