Friday, May 14, 2010
In Spanish, armadillo means "little armored one." This is a good word for armadillos because they have sort of leathery armor made out of bone, and they wear it all the time. Armadillos are mammals, just like dogs or humans. Their closest relatives are anteaters and sloths. All the world's armadillos live in North or South America. There are about 20 kinds of armadillos, but the only kind that lives in the United States is the nine-banded armadillo.
This kind of armadillo used to live mostly in Texas and Louisiana, but now it is starting to live in other places, too. Some armadillos moved east to South Carolina and Florida, and others moved north. There are now armadillos in Missouri and also in Illinois and Indiana and even in southern Ontario. But probably the armadillos won't go much farther north because they have a lower body temperature than a lot of mammals do, so it's hard for them to keep warm in the winter.
When armadillos need to cross some water, they just hold their breath and wade in and start walking under water. They can hold their breath for 6 minutes, which is enough time to get across a stream or something like that. If they have to cross a big bunch of water, they fill up their stomachs and intestines with air, and then they just kind of float across. After they get to the other side, they have to let all the air out again, but this might take a few hours.
You can eat armadillos, and some people in South America do this. I read that the meat tastes like pork, so I think it would be quite yummy. During the Great Depression, some people who were really poor had to eat armadillos, and they called them "Hoover dogs" because they were mad at President Hoover.
Mom thinks armadillos are kind of cute, but she hopes that we don't get any of them in our yard because she does not want them digging holes there. I told her not to worry because if an armadillo comes in the yard, we dogs will catch it and eat it. Yum!