Tolypeutes matacus

Range: Southern Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, northern Argentina

Habitat: Open plains and grasslands; dry forested areas

Conservation status: Numbers are declining, but it does not seem to be in danger. The Brazilian species (Tolypeutes tricinctus) has become increasingly rare because of habitat loss and is now protected.

Three-banded Armadillo

  • • The word “armadillo” is of Spanish origin and refers to the armor-like covering of these animals. The plates are called scutes (as with a turtle).
    • Classified as an “edentate” or “toothless” mammal, but do have small, peg-like teeth that grow only at the sides of the jaw.
    • Keen sense of smell that helps it find insects, such as ants and termites, several inches underground. Use their long snouts to probe into the ground, under bark, and into nests. Their powerful forelegs and claws aid in this process. Also eat some fruit and worms.
    • Eyesight and hearing are relatively poor.
    • Hind feet: five toes, the middle three of which have grown together and have a thick claw. The armadillo walks on the soles of the hind feet.
    • Forefeet: three to five toes with heavy digging claws. It walks on the tips of the claws.
    • Armadillos are surprisingly agile, despite their rigid appearance.
    • An armadillo can ford a narrow stream by holding its breath and walking across the bottom. It can swim across a wider stream by swallowing enough air to inflate the digestive tract.
    • Solitary and nocturnal. Usually hide in bushes and undergrowth during the day, although they may come out to eat in daytime.• The skin is modified to form a double-layered covering of horn and bone over many of the surfaces.
    “Three-banded” refers to the hard hinged bands on the back; sometimes, they have 2 or 4 plates instead of 3, but these are still 3-banded. Its underbelly is covered with soft-haired skin.
    • When threatened, a three-banded armadillo can roll into a perfect ball.

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