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Southern Three-banded Armadillo

Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House

Did You Know?

  • Southern three-banded armadillos were named for the three distinct hinges across their midsection that allow them to curl into a ball when threatened. They can fully close their durable shell into an armored ball and even trap a predator’s limb inside.
  • Unlike most armadillos, these armadillos are not good diggers. They use abandoned anteater burrows instead of creating their own.
  • They use long, sharp claws to break into termite mounds and break open tree bark.

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Scientific Name: Tolypeutes matacus

Class: Mammals

Diet: Ants and termites

Range: Central South America

Endangered Status: Near Threatened

More Information

Southern three-banded armadillos have a hard carapace that covers their body. It is made up of strong, bony plates called scutes, which grow from their skin and cannot be removed. As their native range includes thorny vegetation, this protection is important. The carapace is not connected to their skin on two sides, so they can tuck their limbs and head inside. Their undersides have soft, hairy skin. Three-banded armadillos are about 12 inches long with short tails, and they weigh about 3 pounds.

These mammals use their sense of smell to communicate with other armadillos, including their willingness to mate. Breeding takes place between October and January. Females give birth to one infant after four months of gestation; it is the size of a golf ball when it is born and looks like an adult. It becomes independent after 72 days.

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