Nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus).—Appel Color Photography
Any of 20 species of armoured mammals (family Dasypodidae) related to sloths and anteaters. Armadillos are stout and short-legged, with strong, curved claws and a protective covering of pinkish to brown armour composed of bony plates covered with tough scales. The plates are separated by flexible bands of tissue. One species lives in the U.S., the others in tropical and subtropical regions to the south, primarily in South America. Most inhabit open areas, but some can be found in forests. Species range in size from about 6 in. (16 cm) to 5 ft (1.5 m) long. They live alone, in pairs, or in small groups and feed on termites or other insects, vegetation, small animals, and carrion.