) are the only mammals in Florida with an exoskeleton.
The Nine-banded Armadillo
, Dasypus novemcinctus
, introduced to Florida in the early 1900's, is found statewide in areas with dense ground cover and sandy soil. It is covered with stiff, bony plates. Nine bands of plates cover the body from shoulder to hip and 12 bands cover the long tail. It has a small, tapered head and snout and a long tongue. Its ears are long and hairless. It has sparse white hairs on its belly.
It is primarily nocturnal, sedentary, solitary, and a burrower. It digs a series of dens. The multiple entrances are usually protected by stumps, palmettos, or trees. Many other animals also use armadillo dens.
Its diet is composed of insects, especially beetles, and other invertebrates plus some plant foods such as cedars
Armadillos breed in July or August. Each litter is composed of identical quadruplets, the result of a single egg splitting. All are either male or female. Litters are usually born in March or April. The young begin following the mother the day they are born.
When pursued, an armadillo can dig a burrow and disappear in just a few seconds. The nine-banded armadillo cannot roll into a ball to protect itself but a South American armadillo can.
Predators include man, dogs, bobcats, coyotes, black bears, panthers, and foxes.
A small percentage of armadillos carry leprosy.
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