Armadillo at The Louisville Zoo

Armadillo, Southern Three-banded

Class: Mammalia
Order: Cingulata
Family: Dasypodidae
Genus: Tolypeutes
Species: matacus

Central South America – Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina

Grasslands, forests and marshes.

Length: 9–13 inches when full grown, smaller than many other types of armadillos
Weight: 2–4 lbs

12–15 years in the wild, up to 19 years in captivity

Wild: Ants, termites, beetle larvae and other types of insects; also fallen fruit and worms
Zoo: Insectivore Diet, starchy fruits and vegetables, wax worms


  • Gestation period is about 120 days.
  • One young is born and is about the size of a golf ball.
  • The young are born fully formed, resembling miniature adults, and can walk and roll into a ball immediately from birth.
  • Young are sexually mature at 9–12 months.


  • Active mainly at dusk and throughout the night.
  • They use their well-developed sense of smell to locate food in the dark.
  • Uses its long, sticky, straw-like tongue to gather up and eat many different types of insects.
  • Lives in burrows that were typically abandoned by anteaters.
  • They are primarily solitary, but 10–12 individuals have been observed sharing a den site during cold spells.
  • The three characteristic bands that cover the back of the animal allow it enough flexibility to fit its tail and head together, allowing it to protect its underbelly, limbs, eyes, nose and ears from predators.
  • They generally walk on the tips of the foreclaws, even when running.


  • Armadillos are closely related to anteaters and sloths.
  • There are 20 species of armadillo.
  • The Southern and Brazilian three-banded armadillos are the only species capable of completely rolling itself into a ball as a defense.
  • Armadillo headplates are unique to each armadillo, like human fingerprints.
  • The shell covering its body is armored and the outer layer is made out of keratin, the same component that builds human fingernails.
  • The 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes of the hind foot are grown together, almost like a hoof. The 1st and 5th toes remain separate. There are four toes on the forefeet. The claws on the forefeet are very strong.
  • They can detect worm scent up to eight inches underground.
  • The jaguar is capable of cracking the armadillo’s shell.

Near Threatened due to habitat loss and hunting