Armadillos prefer warm, moist climates, and thrive in forested areas and grasslands. Because they must dig for their food and shelter, they generally gravitate towards areas with loose, porous soil. Armadillos use their strong claws to dig several burrows throughout their home range in which to live and seek refuge from extreme weather or predators. Armadillos are mainly insectivores, with over 90% of their diet consisting of animal matter, like insects and other invertebrates. They’re also known to eat the occasional reptile or amphibian – especially in colder weather. We first encountered Armadillos while traveling in Texas.
In native southern regions, armadillos are nocturnal year-round, keeping cool underground during the day and foraging at night. However, because of the armadillos’ relatively low body temperature, the nine-banded species in North America tends to change its habits in the cooler months and emerge during the day to take advantage of the warm sun. The three banded armadillo instinctually rolls itself into a ball when threatened, completely enclosing its body in its armor-like shell to defend against predators. When frightened, nine-banded armadillos will jump vertically about 3-4 feet in the air. Scientists believe this is a defense mechanism for scaring potential predators. They can live 20 years in captivity.