Armadillos (Cingulata) - representatives of the order Armadillos and the Armadillo family. Such mammals belong to the category of nocturnal animals, living mainly singly. One of the most ancient and most unusual animals on our planet in the territory of its homeland is called amadilla or "pocket dinosaurs".
It is believed that the very first armadillos on Earth appeared about 55 million years ago, and their survival, unlike so many other existing representatives of the fauna, such animals owe to the presence of a kind of shell. The Aztecs called the battleships “tortoise rabbits,” which was explained by the ability of such an animal with relatively long ears to live in specially dug holes, like wild rabbits.
The armadillo shell is a shoulder, head and pelvic shields, as well as a number of characteristic oblique strips with which the body is belted from the sides and from above. All parts of the shell are combined with each other due to the presence of elastic connective tissue, which gives the protective cover sufficient mobility. On top of the shell are horny thin plates of polygonal or square shapes. Such plates are the epidermis.
Shields form armor on the limbs, and the bony rings cover the tail of the animal. The abdomen and the inside of the legs of the armadillo are soft, completely unprotected, covered with rather stiff hair. Such frequent hairs can also be located between all bony plates, and sometimes even horny scales penetrate them. The color of the shell varies from brown to pink. Hair coloring can vary from taupe to white.
The build of the battleship is squat, quite heavy. The total body length most often ranges from 12.5-100 cm, with an average weight of 60-90 kg. The length of the tail of the beast is 2.5-50 cm. The muzzle of a mammal is rather short, triangular or noticeably elongated. Eyes are not too large, covered with rather thick eyelids.
Short limbs strong, well adapted for digging. Forepaws are three- or five-fingered, having powerful and sharp, noticeably curved claws. The hind limbs of the armadillo are five-fingered. The cranial part of the animal is flattened in the dorsoventral direction. Any other representatives of the mammalian family do not have such a variable set of teeth, the number of which in armadillos varies from 28 to 90 pieces. The total number of teeth can vary not only among representatives of various species, but also among individuals of different ages or sexes.
Battleships have small, without enamel and root system teeth of a cylindrical shape. The teeth are constantly growing. The language of representatives of so many species is sticky and long, used by the animal to capture and eat the food found.
It is interesting! It should be noted that armadillos are completely incapable of transferring negative temperatures, therefore their prevalence to the poles is extremely limited.
Armadillos have very well developed hearing and sense of smell, and the vision in these animals is rather weak, so they can not at all distinguish the colors of the surrounding objects. Metabolic processes are reduced, and the temperature indices of the body directly depend on environmental conditions, therefore, they can drop from 36 to 32 ° C.
Where armadillos live, the territories are characterized by the presence of sandy soil, and for the erection of their dwellings such mammals choose places located close to large enough anthills, which facilitates the search for food.
Leading most often a solitary lifestyle, armadillos prefer to communicate with their adult fellow tribesmen exclusively during the breeding season. Occasionally armadillos are found in pairs or in small groups.
It is interesting! In the process of digging holes, armadillos very effectively protect their heads, and the hind limbs are actively used by the animal exclusively for movement underground.
Throughout the daylight hours, mammals rest in their burrows, and only with the onset of night do they go hunting in search of food. Even the slightest danger can frighten a medium-sized beast. For example, a pink battleship immediately burrows in the sand, which is raked with long claws. From the side, such movements resemble ordinary swimming. Mammals can run quite fast and swim well.
How much does an armadillo live?
Reliable data on the average life expectancy of an armadillo in nature is currently completely absent, but it is likely that such a mammal can live 8-12 years. In captivity, the eyelids of such an animal are longer, so it may well reach two decades.
The differences between males and females, represented by sexual dimorphism, appeared in animals in the process of natural evolution. In addition to the principle "only the fittest survives," there is also the very concept of sexual selection in the form of the removal of insufficiently adapted individuals from the reproduction process. Adult males of an armadillo are usually somewhat heavier than females.
Types of Armadillos
The detachment of armadillos is represented by one modern family and two ancient, already extinct. In total, two dozen types of armadillos belong to the category of existing today, but the most famous are:
- Nine-Belt Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) has a body length of 32-57 cm and a tail 21-45 cm long. The view is distinguished by a narrow triangular-shaped head with rather large and very mobile ears. The shell is brown in the presence of a slightly light lower body. The tail covers 12-15 scaly rings. The muzzle, neck and bottom cover small groups of hair;
- Long haired armadillo (Chaetophractus vellerosus) differs in body length, which does not exceed a quarter meter. The entire body of the mammal, as well as the shell, is covered with light brown hair;
- Bristly Armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus) is characterized by a brownish-yellow color, the presence of a shell on the back, upper part of the head and tail. In the middle of the dorsal region there are 6-7 bands represented by transverse rows of movable plates having an oblong-quadrangular shape. The head is wide and flat, with vertical rows of shields under the eyes. The upper side of the forelimbs is covered with irregular hexagonal scales, and on the remaining parts of the body there is thick and wrinkled skin with warts;
- Armored Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) differs in length up to 90-115 cm, excluding the tail, has a pale pink or pink color. When frightened, this kind of mammal is able to bury itself in the ground in a few seconds;
- Six-Belt Armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus) belongs to the monotypic genus Euphractus. The body of a mammalian animal is usually yellowish, but some individuals are characterized by a dark or light reddish-brown color;
- Giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) has a body length in the range of 75-100 cm, with a weight of 18-19 to 30-35 kg. Being the largest view among armadillos, it has a very brown armor that is very mobile and divided into numerous segments. The belly of the animal is relatively light. The tube-shaped muzzle has up to hundreds of teeth pointing back.
Armadillos owe their name to the conquistadors. These Spanish warriors wore forged steel armor, which in appearance resemble the shell of a mammal animal.
It is interesting! An interesting fact is that the body length possessed by the ancestors of modern battleships was about three meters.
The Nine-Belt Armadillo is widespread in Central, North and South America.. It is distinguished by ecological plasticity and presence in various habitats, and the proximity of a person for representatives of this species does not belong to constraining factors. Long-haired armadillos are common in Gran Chaco, as well as the pampas of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay, where they live in arid areas with sparse forests, in the subtropics, on grassy plains with bushes and low vegetation.
The bristled armadillo lives exclusively on the territories of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. The six-landed armadillo gained distribution in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Paraguay. Individual populations are found in Suriname. Giant armadillos mostly live in South America, spread from the territory of southern Venezuela to the regions of Paraguay and northern Argentina.
The standard diet of armadillos in natural conditions includes both animal and plant foods, but termites and ants serve as the main delicacy for such mammals. The insectivorous animal eats invertebrates and some insects, eating their larval stage, adults, as well as lizards, spiders, worms and scorpions. Armadillos are able to feed on carrion and food waste, as well as feathered eggs and fruits.
Many species belong to the category of almost omnivorous animals. Representatives of the order Armadillos and the Armadillo family very actively use a well-developed and incredibly sensitive nose, which allows them to sniff out food even underground. With the help of long and fairly strong claws, the prey is dug up, after which it is collected in a long, very sticky tongue and is eaten.
Breeding and offspring
The process of breeding armadillos is considered unique among mammals. The first, most basic feature is the ability to delay intrauterine development of the embryo.
The duration of such a delay can be two to four months, and in some cases even reaches two years. Such a process allows females of a mammalian animal to "guess" the moment of the offspring's birth by a season characterized by the most favorable conditions, including plenty of food and a suitable temperature.
The second feature of the reproduction of armadillos is represented by the fact that for some species, including the nine-belted armadillo, the birth of only one egg twins is characteristic. The total number of babies born may vary from one to three or four, but always newborn babies are either females or males that have a soft shell of light pink color. As the animal develops and grows up, the shell hardens, which is due to the active growth of bone plates.
Even though there is a very reliable protective armor in the form of a shell, mammals have quite a few natural enemies in their natural habitat. Often, representatives of wild canine and feline, as well as alligators and crocodiles, prey on armadillos.
Serious danger can pose not only for young, but also adult armadillos such pets as dogs and cats. People often hunt some species, as the meat of armadillos is eaten by local residents, and shells are sold to tourists as exotic and inexpensive souvenirs. A considerable number of battleships die under the wheels of vehicles on busy highways.
It is interesting! Contrary to a very popular opinion, only two species belonging to the genus of three-laden armadillos differ in the ability to fold into a rather tight ball for the purpose of self-defense, while the rest of the family does not have such an opportunity due to too many belts and plates.
To escape from their enemies, armadillos actively use cunning and a protective shell. If predators try to get into the hole of such a mammal, then the entrance is quickly blocked by strong bone plates. From the outside, such a lock resembles a bottle cork in its appearance, so the predator does not have any chance of reaching its prey.
Population and species status
At the end of the last century, the total number of representatives of the order Armadillos from the Armadillo family has declined quite sharply, so at the moment twelve species of such mammals are listed in the International Red Book.
It will also be interesting:
The giant and lamellar armadillos are now threatened with extinction and need special protection.