If you feel like you’re coming into this story in its middle, you may be interested in Armadillos, Part 1.
Most Interesting 9-Banded Armadillo Facts
Three facts come to mind when I think about what is “interesting” on the topic of Armadillos:
- Mad Jumping Skills: When a 9-Banded Armadillo jumps, it’s not “just a little bit.” They can easily jump about 4 feet straight up from a standing still position. They do this primarily when they’re startled or outright scared. And this, instead of running (which they do pretty well, for having such short legs), is why they smash into the bumper of your car instead of simply being run over or missed altogether.
- They All Look Alike: Ever wondered why all of the neighborhood Armadillos seem look alike? It’s called polyembryony, though we are more familiar with the term “identical twins.” The Armadillo is the only mammal known to produce polyembryonic offspring every single time. They don’t produce twins, however; they produce identical quadruplets. Every. Single. Time.
- Underwater Armadillo: Like many a famous magician, the 9-Banded Armadillo can hold its breath for up to 6 minutes! But why on on earth would they want to do that? To get to the other side, of course! Seriously. To cross narrow bodies of water, this fascinating creature can hold its breath and walk across the bottom. To cross longer distances, it sucks extra air into its stomach and intestines, causing itself to become more buoyant, and then swims across.
Interesting or Not, It’s Best to Keep a Safe Distance
In 2015, having posted several Armadillo photos to my Instagram account, I was suddenly inundated with warnings from both perfect strangers and concerned family regarding Leprosy. The Armadillo’s body temperature gives them the unfortunate ability to contract the disease and, thus, they can transmit it to humans, though it’s a very rare occurrence. Also, they’re reportedly used for Leprosy research.
Not that it’s a very good segue into this next comment, but . . .
Armadillo is said to be an excellent dinner partner — not on the chair next to yours; rather, on your plate — in many countries, including the United States. During The Great Depression they became famously known as Hoover Hog. Looping back to the prior paragraph regarding Leprosy, should you opt to give it a try, be sure to cook it well. I’m told that Leprosy can be contracted from eating under-cooked ‘Dillo burgers (or loaf, or stew, or . . . you get the idea), much in the way uncooked fish or under-cooked beef can transmit things we’d rather not experience.
The Reason My Friends Complain About These Docile Creatures
Well, it turns out that if you own the yard with which an Armadillo has fallen in love, then your new best friend is digging burrows. Lots of burrows. One Armadillo may dig as many as a dozen in its territory, as a way to easily escape predators.
We, however, find them amusing in the wild and have no interest in dining with or on them. We only wish to shoot (click not boom), and, in the famous words of Elmer Fudd, we intend to stay “vewy, wewy quiet” to that end.