Some species, however, feed almost entirely on ants and termites. Armadillos have short legs, but can move quite quickly. All species live in the Americas. The familiar nine-banded armadillo is the only species that includes the United States in its range. The largest species, the giant armadillo, can be the size of a small pig and weigh up to 54 kg (119 lb), and can be 150 cm (59 in) long. Other armadillo species cannot roll up because they have too many plates. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- The plates cover their back, legs, head and tail, composed of small epidermal scales of horn-covered bone. This page was last modified on 21 October 2020, at 15:17. They are prolific diggers. Closely related to anteaters and sloths, armadillos generally have a pointy or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. The young are born with soft, leathery skin which hardens within a few weeks. The nine-banded armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. They vary widely in size and color, from the 6-inch-long, salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot-long, dark-brown giant armadillo. Strong legs and huge front claws are used for digging, and long, sticky tongues for extracting ants and termites from their tunnels. The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) or pichiciego is the smallest species of armadillo, at 85 grams (3.0 ounces) and 13 to 15 centimeters (5.1–5.9 inches) in total length. Most species dig burrows and sleep prolifically, up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the early morning and evening for beetles, ants, termites, and other insects. They are the only living mammal to wear such a shell. This armour-like skin appears to be the main defense of many armadillos, although most escape predators by fleeing (often into thorny patches, from which their armour protects them) or digging to safety. Contrary to popular belief, not all armadillos are able to encase themselves in their shells. The underside of the animal is never armoured, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur. WATCH: These Cute Armadillos Almost Always Give Birth to Quadruplets, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/armadillos.html. Of the 20 varieties of armadillo, all but one live in Latin America. Their whole body (head, back, legs and tail) is covered with bony plates. The nine-banded armadillo is noted for its movement through water which is accomplished via two different methods: it can walk underwater for short distances, holding its breath for as long as six minutes; also, to cross larger bodies of water, it is capable of increasing its buoyancy by swallowing air, inflating its stomach and intestines. Armadillos have a large number of cheek teeth which are not divided into premolars and molars, but usually have no incisors or canines. The living ones have a leathery armored shell. They use their claws for digging and finding food, as well as for making their homes in burrows. Armadillos are the only living mammals that wear such shells. In addition to bugs, armadillos eat small vertebrates, plants, and some fruit, as well as the occassional carrion meal. They have very poor eyesight, and utilize their keen sense of smell to hunt. Closely related to anteaters and sloths, armadillos generally have a pointy or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. 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