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Baby Armadillo Photograph



05.18.2007 - How cute! A baby armadillo! Armadillos aren't normally cute, but the younglings qualify, and then they get less attractive with age (like me!). Armadillos don't breed very often (like me!), and when they do, the young hide in the den and grow quickly. Thus, juvenile armadillos are rarely seen or caught. However, today we got four juvenile armadillos. Here I am, seen holding the pick of the litter.

How did we come across four in just one day? That's a silly question - armadillos ALWAYS have four young! That's right, in a very strange breeding quirk, armadillos always give birth to four identical quadruplets - the embryo always splits into four. Additionally, in rare mating behavior, dillos copulate face to face. I don't know how often this happens (or happens successfully) because, as stated, baby armadillos are rare. Adults live 15 years, and thus they don't need to breed rapidly, unlike rats, which have an average life expectancy of under a year. Armadillos grow very quickly, and then stop. They reach adult size within perhaps 6 months, and then they don't grow any more for the rest of their long lives.

Another interesting thing about the young armadillo is that the bony shell is quite a bit more flexible than the adult shell. It hardens with age. Speaking of age, I'm going to turn 30 years old in just 13 days! Who knew the day would ever come? Ah, to be a youngling again, wide-eyed and naive, with my snout just discovering the joys of a freshly dug earthworm from the dirt, my claws getting muddy for the first time. I don't have much else to say about aging or baby armadillos in general.

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The armadillo is a neat little creature. It is usually nomadic, but it will set up shop in a yard if food is abundant. The armadillo feeds on insects and earthworms, and will make quick work of a property by creating unsightly tunnels. Impressive diggers, armadillos use their strong legs and sharp claws to create the burrows where they find both food and shelter. These living areas are often along the banks of streams where the soil is soft and easily manipulated. Armadillos can swim, and inflate their stomachs with air, dialating the organ to twice its original size to allow the creature the ability to stay above water. Without doing this, the heavy outer armor of the ‘dillo would sink it to the bottom of the stream. Amazingly enough, the armadillo can hold its breath underwater for up to six minutes. This animal has been used in research for leprosy, a disease which both people and armadillos are susceptible to.

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