Behavior

Armadillos are primarily solitary though young siblings and consorting pairs forage together. Llanos long-nosed armadillos (D. sabanicola) have been seen feeding in groups in elevated areas in floodplains. Social organization for most species is unknown with the exception of nine-banded armadillos. In this species, males and females have overlapping

A three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus) rolls into a ball for protection. (Photo by George B. Schaller. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
A hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus villosus) near Puerto Piramide, Argentina. (Photo by © Steve Kaufman/Corbis. Reproduced by permis-

home ranges. Females may or may not share an area with each-other depending on density. Although males do overlap in home range, breeding males may use more exclusive areas. These breeding "territories" are maintained by aggression directed at non-breeding males. Female aggression in nine-banded, yellow (Euphractus sexcinctus), and larger hairy armadillos is associated with lactation. Defense of space was also seen in northern long-nosed armadillos during the breeding season.

These animals communicate through scent and sound. Secretions from glands in the anal region, on the feet, ears, and pelvic shield function for marking of habitat, identifying individuals, and advertising sexual receptivity. Chemical composition of anal sac glands changes during estrus in nine-banded armadillos and paired females conspicuously wag their tails after male solicitation. The position of large smelly glands on the yellow armadillos pelvic shield suggests a burrow-marking function. Armadillos give off a snuffling sound while foraging and some make a growling sound or a scream when captured. Both sexes in nine-banded armadillos softly chuck during courtship. A buzzing sound may be heard between mother and young. Strangely, armadillos seem unaffected by human voice. Eyesight is so poor that they may run into objects in their path.

Activity is mostly crepuscular and/or nocturnal although yellow, three-banded, northern long-nosed, and pichi (Za-edyus pichiy) armadillos forage during the day. Many species shift activity periods seasonally, becoming more diurnal as temperatures drop. Only Andean hairy (C. nationi) and pichi armadillos hibernate. Young nine-banded armadillos have a morning and an evening peak of activity. When active, armadillos mostly forage. When disturbed, many balance on back feet and tail and sniff to monitor for predators or con-specifics. If suddenly surprised, nine-banded armadillos will leap into the air and land running, startling a predator. This escape strategy is used unsuccessfully with automobiles, resulting in road kills. Armadillos are champion sleepers, spending upwards of 16 hours snoozing per day.

A seven-banded armadillo (Dasypus septemcinctus) foraging in Bolivia. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

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