07 August 2011

bestiary: armadillo

these "little armoured ones" are quite unique among mammals, most obviously because they are the only such mammals to come packaged with armoured shells. i had no idea that there are nine varieties of these animals who can grow up to five feet in length. at that size they're over hundred pounds! i wonder how much of that is typically due to their shells which, curiously, not all types of armadillos rely on for defense. some have too many plates to be able to roll up and completely encase themselves. only the three banded variety seem to have that option. mostly they run away however some run into patches that are thorny or treacherous enough for their predators (big cats, bears, and even raccoons) but not so treacherous that their own armour cannot protect them. they're rather poorly equipped from a vision perspective but of course, they can smell quite well. being relatives of sloths, they sleep. a lot. like sixteen hours a day lot. and like ant-eaters, they have long sticky tongues that they use after digging to get their fill of insects though they are omnivores. and the final random fact: those in andean regions used to make musical instruments out of armadillo shells called charangos.

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