Significance to humans

Armadillos are exploited throughout Latin America for food. They are considered so tasty that one Mexican society circumvented food taboos by calling them turkeys. In the

A nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) with young. (Photo by Jeff Foott. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

United States during the Great Depression in the thirties, armadillos were readily consumed and given the names Texas turkey and Hoover hog. Souvenir purses and baskets with tail handles are formed from hollowed-out carapaces. Stuffed specimens on tip toes still line shop shelves in Mexican border towns. Armadillos are unwanted guests in suburban settings and agricultural fields. Ranchers have also targeted armadillos for extermination because their burrows reportedly lead to broken limbs of livestock and horses. Many change their minds upon hearing that armadillos are the only known predator of fire ants in the United States. Armadillos also are used as research models in the study of leprosy and development of a vaccine, because they are the only animals that can transmit leprosy.

The pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) is the smallest of all armadillos. (Photo by N. Smythe/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

1. Yellow armadillo (Euphractus sexcinctus); 2. Pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus); 3. Small hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus vellero-sus); 4. Greater naked-tailed armadillo (Cabassous tatouay); 5. Giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus); 6. Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novem-cinctus); 7. Southern three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus). (Illustration by Jacqueline Mahannah)

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