Armadillo Predators

Armadillos are among the most distinctive-looking of all mammals. They look a bit like a cross between a polecat and an armored dinosaur. While armadillos are common sights in certain parts of North, Central, and South America, they remain objects of intense curiosityand for good reason armadillos are covered with their own protective coat of armor. The word 'armadillo' actually means 'little armored one' in Spanish. This is because of the bony plates that cover their head, neck, and back. Some armadillo species can curl up under their coat of armor while others cannot.

The bony bands that cover the armadillo's back are hard and bumpy, protecting it from predators. Only two kinds of armadillos (both three-banded) can actually curl up into a ball, like a roly-poly, but they all rely on those overlapping bony plates to protect them, like armored tanks with legs and a tail. The armor makes armadillos look slow and clumsy, but they can run at about 30 miles per hour! That is only slightly slower than a white-tailed deer! They are also good swimmers, can move along the bottoms of ponds and can hold their breath up to six minutes! They are experts at doing the dog paddle, too. 

WHAT DO ARMADILLOS EAT?

Armadillos are omnivores because they eat insects and some plants. They have tiny eyes and terrible eyesight, so they use their super sensitive nose to sniff out a meal instead. They have large, strong claws to dig and tear at decaying wood and ant nests, looking for tasty treats.

The nocturnal armadillo ventures out of its underground home to hunt for food in the early evenings after dusk. The bulk of their diet consists of insects like termites, beetles, grubs, cockroaches and scorpions, just to name a few. Theyre also known to eat small reptiles and amphibians and their eggs in colder weather. A little bit of plant matter finds its way into the armadillo's diet, as well.

WHAT EAT ARMADILLOS

An armadillo doesnt wear that armored shell for nothing! A number of predators, or natural enemies, like to eat armadillos. Chief among them is the coyote. But such predators as bobcats, cougars, wolves, bears, raccoons and even some of the larger hawks and other birds of prey will also attack and devour an armadillo. Some people in Mexico, Central America and South America also eat armadillos, whose meat is sometimes used as a substitute for pork.

THE ROLE OF ARMADILLOS AS A PREDATOR AND PREY

Armadillos have an instrumental role to play in the animal food chain as both prey and predators. These animals are a source of food for organisms like snakes, humans, dogs, and jaguars. They, as a result, promote the survival of these animals. Armadillos feed on a wide array of invertebrates with the examples of insects, worms, and larvae. In so doing, armadillos keep the populations of these organisms under check. Overall, the existence of armadillos confirms the presence of a healthy ecosystem.


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