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The armadillo is any of several small mammals most known for having a bony armor shell.


Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus.
(larger image)
Scientific classification

The average size is about 75 centimetres (30 inches) total length including tail.

It is a placental mammal of the order Xenarthra, related to the anteater. There are several species of armadillo, distinguished by how many bands are visible on their armor.

All species of armadillos are native to the American continents, where they inhabit a variety of environments. In the United States, armadillos are most common in the warmer states, particularly Texas.

Armadillos eat mostly insects, grubs, and other invertebrates.

The armadillo is a prolific digger, and uses its sharp claws to burrow both to feed on grubs and to dig dens.

Its main defense is its armor-like outer skin. When threatened by a predator, the armadillo will roll up into a ball.

Armadillos are often used in the study of leprosy, since they are one of the only other animal species that can contract the disease. They are particularly susceptible due to their unusually low body temperature, which is hospitable to the leprosy bacterium.

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