Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
The armadillo in Florida
The Armadillo is a common sight to in Florida; all too often this will be as road kill! Otherwise, you may well come across them in wilder areas and forests or State Parks
Its genus name is daspyus which translated from Greek means rabbit. This is because without its carapace, it strongly resembles a rabbit.
They are related to ant eaters and sloths and the species has been evolving for 50, 000000 years. At one point, they were thought to be extinct in America until one was spotted in north of the Rio Grande (but I guess there must have been at least 2! ! )
They require a tropical or sub tropical climate and temperate forest to survive. That means that until they are introduced into California, you will only see them in 9 of the States.
The nine banded armadillo weighs about a stone and measures approximately two and a half feet long (males are a little bigger) Apart from its underbelly (which is furry) the whole animal is encased in a shell. The reference to 9 bands is somewhat of a misnomer as the bands can vary between 7 and 11. Most Edenton anmals (of which the armadillo is one) have no teeth; however, they boast no less than 30.
The first time the 9 banded armadill was spotted in the United States was in the mid 19th century: and were introduced into Florida after the war. It is thought that a marine let a pair loose and from this pair, the current population exploded.
An armadillo will typically mate between july and december (in the missionary position) and give birth the following march ot april. The young will be independant the following year and can look forward to reaching their 7th birthday. A female armadillo produces one egg a year that can divide to provide 4 young.
They will dig many burrows to live in and these will typically be by a tree root or a water supply. They are largely insectivores (insect eaters) and enjoy wasps, termites and roaches but around a quarter of their diet will consist of plants, reptiles and birds.
They have a good sense of smell to compensate for their poor sight and can leap 4 feet in the air. Their habits are nocturnal and they will cross water by either floating or if the water is shallow, simply holding their breath as the walk across the bed.
Armadillos do carry leprosy and this can cross to humans if they handle them. There are 4000 cases of leprosy in America annually and they are studying armadillos to help with their knowledge of this distressing disease
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