Thursday, May 15, 2008

Armadillo - born dead along side the road GRIN

After I taught in Chicago, Wayne and I drove to the Ozarks for a few days. I quit counting how many dead armadillos we saw along the road, but it was a bunch of them. Finally decided I should stop and take a photo of one of them. I swear they must be born dead along side the road because I've never seen a live one. Here's a bit of information about the armadillo:
In the U.S., the sole resident armadillo is the Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), which is most common in the central southernmost states, particularly Texas. Their range is as far east as Florida and as far north as Kansas, and while cold winters have slowed the expansion of their range (due to a lack of sufficient body fat), they have been consistently expanding their range over the last century due to a lack of natural predators and have been found as far as western Kentucky, and are expected to eventually reach Ohio before the cold winters inhibit their expansion.

Armadillos are prolific diggers. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The Nine-banded Armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos near which it lives and feeds. The diet of different armadillo species varies, but consists mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Some species, however, are almost entirely formicivorous (feeding mainly on ants).
Armadillos have poor vision but are not blind.

This armor-like skin appears to be the main defense of many armadillos, although most escape predators by fleeing (often into thorny patches, from which their armor protects them) or digging to safety. The North American Nine-banded Armadillo tends to jump straight in the air when surprised, and consequently often collides with the undercarriage or fenders of passing vehicles -- guess that explains why there are so many along the road.

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