In chapter 11, Mo and Finchy meet Annie, the armadillo from Amarillo. She’s smart, friendly and, although Annie would probably disagree, very strange looking.
Have you ever seen an armadillo? The word is actually Spanish for “little armored one”. They vary in size and have pointed snouts, short legs, a long tail, sharp claws and big ears. While many armadillos are plain gray or brown in appearance, some also have pink, red, or even yellow coloring. The smallest is a pink fairy armadillo, which is only five inches long. The biggest is a giant armadillo, which can be 59 inches long, weigh 120 pounds, and have up to 100 teeth along with six-inch claws.
What makes them odd looking is their cape of hard shells, or armor. They’re the only animals in the world that have their back, head, legs, and tail covered in hard shells that look like armor or shields that overlap each other in order to protect them against their enemies or dangerous animals. They also have a sticky tongue. This makes it easier for them to catch their favorite food, bugs, from small tunnels that are too hard to reach with just their claws.
There are 20 different types of armadillos. The type that lives in the United States is called the nine-banded armadillo. Here are eight more facts about these unusual animals:
- Armadillos are nearly blind and deaf and rely on their keen sense of smell to monitor their environment. Some scientists say their sense of smell is so strong that they can find food up to 9-inches underground.
- They’re actually good swimmers. They can hold their breath for up to six minutes and are really skilled at walking underwater to cross streams.
- When startled or scared, these armadillos can jump four to five feet high. Usually this surprises any creature trying to eat it for lunch. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work so well when they’re crossing a road and startled by a moving car, which is why they are common road kill.
- Most of the 20 species of armadillos mainly live in or near the tropical (hot) parts of Central and South America. Most live in open spaces, but some live in forests.
- Their relatives are sloths and anteaters.
- Unlike people who are warm-blooded, armadillos are cold-blooded. But they’re not reptiles. Their body doesn’t generate heat internally, which means they’re not good at staying warm when it’s cold outside. When the weather is cold, they may group together in burrows that have a nest of leaves or grass inside.
- Armadillos can have anywhere from 1 to 12 pups in a litter. When born, their shell is soft and gray and feels like leather. They can roll up into a ball within hours of being born, and can live anywhere from 4 to 40 years!
- The majority of armadillos like to be alone, or are solitary most of the time. They travel to look for food and try to avoid danger.
If you could be any animal just for a day, would you be an armadillo? Email what you like best about this animal along with your first name, age, and state you live in and we’ll post your response on our social media pages!