Armadillos do not lay eggs. Armadillos give birth to live babies called pups. Although they are sometimes mistaken for reptiles due to their hard shell, they are in fact mammals. There are only two mammals that are known to lay eggs, the duck-billed platypus and the echidna.
There are roughly 20 different species of armadillos with the nine-banded armadillo being the only species that is found in the United States. Nicknamed the “hillbilly speed bump” due to getting hit by cars often, the nine-banded armadillo is the official state animal of Texas.
How many pups do armadillos have?
Armadillos birth between 1 and 12 pups, depending on species. The nine-banded armadillo will birth 4 identical pups of the same sex every litter. The seven-banded armadillo will birth between 8 and 15 identical pups.
Armadillo Birthing process
Armadillos will dig massive burrows to live in as well as birth their pups in. These burrows can be over 10 feet wide and can connect to other burrows as well. The armadillo will dig its burrows with its shovel like front claws. They often prefer loose or sandy soils because it’s easier to dig.
Like some other mammals, armadillos can delay pregnancy for months by triggering hormones which prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterine wall. This incredible process is called embryonic diapause. While some are believed to have delayed pregnancy for up to two years, the longest confirmed is four months.
When the pups are born, they have a soft leathery skin. This starts to harden into the armor like shell that adults have after a couple of weeks. The litter of pups will nurse for around two months before weaning off the mother and starting to eat an adult diet. The pups will stay close to the mother for a couple more months after weaning before venturing off on their own.
What do armadillos eat?
Although armadillos will occasionally eat a vertebrate such as a small frog, an armadillos diet consists mostly of insects such as ants and termites. Much like its cousin, the anteater, armadillos have a long snout and a sticky tongue, which works great for capturing insects. Because of their poor eyesight, armadillos rely on their incredible sense of smell to locate their food. This amazing sense of smell allows them to smell insects up to 20 cm beneath the ground!
How long do armadillos live?
The life expectancy of an armadillo varies by species. A nine-banded armadillo can live up to 20 years in the wild. A typical lifespan is between 7 and 15 years.
What animals will eat an armadillo?
A wide range of predators will eat an armadillo with one of the most common being the coyote. Other predators to the armadillo include cougars, bears, bobcats, wolves, foxes, dogs, raccoons, and even large predatory birds.
While armadillos can be mistaken for egg laying animals because of their appearance, they are mammals which means that they give birth to live young. Like a variety of other mammals, this is done in the safety of a den where the young can be protected until they reach the proper age to venture outside.