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What’s That Moving Through the Grass? Oh, Tiny Armadillo Babies!

This is sure to be one of the more unusual nature sights you’ll see. Armadillo babies skittering after their mother just looks odd.

I can recall that when I was a little kid, my grandfather had a taxidermied armadillo in his basement rec-room. It seems that stuffed armadillos were quite a thing in America some decades ago.

We kids were told that armadillos would curl themselves into balls when frightened and then roll themselves away from whatever it was that was threatening them. I spent a good amount of time staring at that immovable armadillo, wondering if he had tried rolling himself into a ball before he was caught and stuffed.

Maybe that youthful memory is why armadillos still fascinate me. When I saw this video of a family of baby armadillos following their mother it seemed just as exotic and strange to me as did that glass-eyed fellow from my childhood.

Here are a few armadillo facts that you might find interesting:

  • There are 20 species of armadillo but only one – the nine-banded armadillo – includes North America in its range. The rest live in Central and South America.
  • Armadillos are the only mammal with a bony shell that covers its body. The tropical pangolin looks like it might match the description too, but it is covered in keratin scales rather than a bony shell.
  • Armadillos spend a lot of time sleeping, up to 16 hours a day.
  • They have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell, and powerful legs equipped with wicked claws used to dig into the earth in search of insects. They lick ants and termites up with their long tongue, much like anteaters, with whom they are related.
  • Alas, only one of the twenty kinds of armadillo – the three-banded armadillo – can truly curl itself completely into its protective shell. And none of them have the magical power to roll itself away from danger like a soccer ball.

Bummer.

NEXT: ‘Turtle Wrangling’ for Conservation: Dive In and Grab a Turtle!

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What’s That Moving Through the Grass? Oh, Tiny Armadillo Babies!