Armadillo 3

Taken at the Cincinnati Zoo in the old Nocturnal House.

Armadillos are famous for their defensive, armored shells. The southern three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus) can actually roll itselfcompletely into a ball. Often it will leave its shell open just enough for a would-be predator’s nose or paw to poke through. Suddenly the armadillo slams shut its shell, clamping down tightly and causing injury to the intruder, which is generally enough to send a predator packing.


  • Where to see them: Central South America
  • Length: Up to 1 ft
  • Weight: 3 to 3.5 lbs
  • Lifespan: 7 to 15 yrs
  • Habitat: Grassland, wetland, and forest
  • Diet: Ants and termites
  • Risk Status: Species at Risk (IUCN—Lower risk/near threatened)
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