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Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
The nine-banded armadillo, scientifically known as
, is one of many species of armadillos.
The nine-banded armadillos often inhabit forest and scrub-brush areas in tropical and temperate regions around the world. Although they are found in grasslands and savanna regions around woody areas, nine-banded armadillos prefer living in forests. They prefer to live in forests because they are able to forage in forest litter for small invertebrates. The armadillos are not often found in arid regions, instead they also thrive in riparian habitats and area with a sufficient amount of water and/or at least 38 cm of rain annually. This association with water allows for more available food sources in wetter areas or softer soil conditions for easy digging and burrowing. Nine-banded armadillos are very adaptable to different habitats, as long as there is sufficient food and water supplies available.
Temperature is an important factor in choice of a habitat for the armadillos. They start to shiver at temperatures below 22C, but the warmth of their burrow allows for the armadillos to inhabit temperate areas during milder winters. At present, nine-banded armadillos are not common in any regions in which more than 24 freeze-over days occur annually or the average January temperature drops below -2C. They are also more populous in low-lying areas, often around sea-level.
Nine-banded armadillo in a burrow.
The nine-banded armadillo has many physical and behavioral adaptations. Their appearance and features allow to protect themselves from predators, capture prey and engage in daily activities. The outer body of the nine-banded armadillo is covered in armor made up of bony plates covered in a leathery kerantinous skin. These scales (osteoderms) provide a hard, but flexible covering, which comprises about 16% of the armadillo's body weight.
Another physical adaptation is the hips and the neck vertebrae. It includes several bones that are fused in order to make the spine and back relatively rigid, as an adaptation to digging. When agitated by a perceived threat, nine-banded armadillos usually freeze or jump straight in the air and sprint over short distances. A frightened nine-banded armadillo will usually seek a burrow then arches its feet and braces its back once inside so that it is difficult to remove. If a burrow is not nearby, the animal may seek dense thorny underbrush, as it is relatively protected by its tough exterior.
Pari of nine-banded armadillos forage for food
The nine-banded armadillo are scavengers and consumers in the food web of it's environment. They associate with many kinds of invertebrates and some parasitic ticks. The habitat in which nine-banded armadillos live in, their environment harbors several species of fungi, such as Paracoccidiodies brasiliensis are responsible for human diseases. Armadillos infected with the fungus are able to cause a mycosis in humans, but humans appear healthy.
Nine-banded armadillos are opportunistic feeders, which over ninety percent of their diet, by volume is made up of animal matter. Almost five hundred separate foods, such as insecta and terrestrial invertebrates make up the diet of a single armadillo. While foraging, nine-banded armadillos rely primarily on their sense of smell to locate food items. For example, after preying on ant hills, the armadillos often roll around vigorously to remove ants from themselves.
Nine-banded armadillos often pair with each other during their summer breeding season. It is unusual for a male and female to maintain close proximity with one another because they are typically solitary animals. The male keeps the proximity intact, in order to claim and protect the female from other males. In some instances, males often fight as one protects his rights to the female. Females appear to retreat from males , which may be an effort to prevent the male from maintaining very close proximity before preparing to mate.
During copulation, a single ovum is fertilized. As it progresses, monozygotic polyembryony occurs. That is, when a blastocyst finally implants in the wall of the uterus, it buds into four identical embryos. This embryonic process almost always results in the birth of four identical quadruplets. The quadruplets are often born in early spring, after about a four month gestation period. Young nine-banded armadillos are born in an advanced state of development. They closely resemble their adult counterparts, but smaller in size.
The population of nine-banded armadillos is increasing throughout most of their distribution in North, Central, and South America. Due to their high reproduction rate and expanding distribution, the armadillos are not considered to be in any danger. There is no major population decline, as nine-banded armadillos are able to maintain tolerance of habitat alteration. There are no major threats to the species, although it is hunted throughout its range. Given its high rate of reproduction, the species seems able to withstand a reasonably high degree of offtake. In North America, nine-banded armadillos are subjects to poisoning as it is considered a nuisance.
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