Nine Banded Armadillo Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is a medium-size mammal that typically occurs in America. It is the most common armadillo. Nine-banded armadillos are likely to make homes in secondary rainforests and dry scrubs. It is thought to jump 4 feet high up in the air when threatened. They are also known as ‘long-nosed armadillo’.

Nine Banded Armadillo Facts


  • Adult armadillos average 25.4 in (64.6 cm) in total length including 26–53 cm (10–21 in) long tail.
  • Nine-banded armadillos are one of the largest armadillo species.
  • The height is 15–25 cm (5.9–9.8 in) from ground to the top of the shell.
  • The entire body is protected with the armored skin except for the inner sides of the legs and underparts of the body.
  • Armadillos have 7 – 9 bands on a long tail which is why it is so named.
  • They have elongated claws that are set in the middle toes of the forefeet. These claws are typically used for digging. Giant armadillo has got much larger claws.
  • Three-banded armadillos can roll into a ball while nine-banded armadillos cannot.
  • They have got the ability to cross the river while floating. They do so either by inflating their intestines or simply by holding breath for up to 5 minutes.
nine banded armadillo facts
Nine-banded Armadillo ©

Geographic Range

  • Nine-banded armadillos are the most widespread armadillos. Their range extends to the far end of North, South, and Central America.
  • They are found in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida to as far south as Lain America, Mexico and Rio Grande. Nine-banded armadillos are widely distributed throughout the South Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, Missouri, and Tennessee.
  • Man of these species have migrated to as far north as southern Indiana, southern Nebraska, and southern Illinois.
  • Armadillos have also expanded to Argentina and Uruguay.


  • Nine-banded armadillos typically make homes in warm habitats especially rainy environments. They have adapted to living in tropical rainforests, open prairies, and scrublands.
  • Armadillos seem to prefer forested areas which are neither too cold nor too hot. It’s because the armored skin (on its back) is not fatty enough to prevent the animal from heat or water.


  • During winter, nine-banded armadillos remain active all day but at night they go home. Outside winter, they are nocturnal as well as crepuscular.
  • While digging for insects armadillos do not need oxygen for they can go by short periods without breathing.
  • Males are thought to be territorial while females are not.
  • They mostly live near water streams or water holes where they look for small insects.
  • They are generally timid animals.
  • Nine-banded armadillos communicate with each other via low sounds.
nine banded armadillo facts
Nine-banded Armadillo ©

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Nine-banded armadillos typically rely on insects for consumption. They use snouts to dig soft soil in order to get to the insects such as termites, ants, beetles, worms, ant larvae, beetle larvae, grubs, and small invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Armadillo’s have a keen sense of smell as they detect insects moving 20 cm deep into the soil. Once they get to the insects they use their long sticky tongue to eat most of them.
  • Nine-banded armadillos may also move the hills of resident ants in order to make them come out.
  • They rarely feed on small reptiles and amphibians, baby mammals, bird’s eggs.
  • The non-animal matter makes up 10% of the armadillo’s diet. This includes tubers, seeds, fungi, and fruits.

Reproductive Biology

  • In the United States, the breeding season ranges from June to August. In the Northern Hemisphere the mating season peaks in November to January.
  • The gestation period lasts about 120 days.
  • They attain maturity at 1 year age.
  • A female produces as many as 56 babies during her entire life.
  • Nine-banded armadillos live up to 12 – 15 years.
  • They have many natural predators including alligators, black bears, maned wolves, jaguars, red wolves, large raptors, bobcats, and coyotes.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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