Ninebanded armadillo

Dasypus novemcinctus

SUBFAMILY

Dasypodinae

TAXONOMY

Dasypus novemcinctus Linnaeus, 1758, Brazil. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common long-nosed armadillo; French: Tatou a neuf bandes; German: Neunbinden-Gürteltier; Spanish: Mulita.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 25.4 in (64.6 cm); weight 9.9 lb (4.5 kg). Dentition: 7-9/7-9. Has 7-9 bands, a long banded tail, an elongated face, and large ears held close together.

DISTRIBUTION

Latin America, southern North America. HABITAT

Forested areas preferred. BEHAVIOR

Crepuscular and nocturnal but more diurnal during the winter. Solitary. Prescribed home ranges maintained. Male breeding territories suggested. Polygynous. Can go without oxygen for short periods while foraging in soil. Walks across the bottom of small streams but gulps air and dogpaddles across larger bodies of water. Armadillos are fond of water; under arid, dry climatic conditions, they concentrate in the vicinity of streams and water holes. Tracks in the mud around small ponds give evidence that the armadillos visit them not only for purposes of drinking and feeding, but also to take mud baths. Armadillos are timid animals. They are almost constantly active when foraging and probing into crevices and under litter for food. They continuously grunt while foraging and do not seem to be particularly attentive to their surroundings. They communicate with each other by low-volume sounds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Eats beetles, beetle larvae, ant larvae, other insects and invertebrates, small vertebrates, and fruit seasonally. Moves noisily through leaf litter stopping periodically to probe the soil.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygynous mating occurs in summer months, June though August in the United States. Courtship may last several days. Implantation of embryo is delayed for four months or as long as two years. Gestation lasts four months with births occurring about 65 days after implantation. Females exhibit polyembryony, giving birth to four genetically identical young. Not all individuals breed in a given year. In one population, genetic studies showed only one third of adults were parents over a four-year period. Ovulation is inhibited during drought conditions.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Used as food and as an animal model for penile erection and leprosy studies. ♦

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