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Armadillo - Armadillos - As Pets

Armadillos are found mostly in South and Central America. The nine-banded armadillo is the only armadillo found in the United States. They have been found as far north as Missouri. I saw a number of them when we lived in Oklahoma. In fact, I have a couple of cute stories about Armadillos I will relate a little later in this article. An armadillo photo will be provided at the end of this article.

They do not do well in cold weather. This is something important to keep in mind if you are considering an armadillo as a pet. They do not store fat. If you have an armadillo as a pet you must provide a safe heating source.

An armadillo has a hard leathery outer shell made up of scutes or thin bone plates. They are a mammal and give birth to live young. They are of the order Cingulata.

The armadillo ranges from 24 to 32 inches or 61 to 80 cm and weighs from 8 to 17 pounds or 3.6 to 7.7 kg. They do have a short lifespan in the wild. They live for 10 to 15 years in captivity.


The armadillo are natural foragers; they dig with their long claws. It would be downright animal abuse if an armadillo was stuck in a small cage and fed cat food. An exotic pet must be kept in an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible. They could be kept outside in a large secure pen with a shed that could be warmed in the winter. They do not do will inside a house. Make sure they are supervised when in the house.

They do have a slight odor somewhat musk-like. I havenít noticed the odor but then again I like the smell of skunks. When the armadillo is startled it may have a stronger odor.

Feed a natural diet as possible; they eat grubs, worms, insects, and other creepy crawlies. They are omnivorous but mostly eat insects. They have a long sticky tongue much like the ant eater. They do eat some roots and fruit. Like all omnivorous animals they are opportunist eaters and do eat carrion.

They do dig dens but only to house themselves or give birth to their young. They do not den with other armadillos; they are solitary animals.

Something else to keep in mind when considering armadillos as exotic pets is that they are nocturnal and are rarely awake more than about five hours a night.

Be sure to check on the legality of the armadillo, are they legal to keep as pets? Please before bringing home any animal make sure it is a legal animal in your state, county, city, or local area. These can all differ! Just because a pet is legal in a state doesnít mean that it is legal in your city. Find out what the requirements are. Will you need a permit, examination by a veterinarian, or a health certificate; find out before acquiring the exotic pet.


Some areas consider them pests because they dig up yards looking for food. It hasnít been very long since they crossed from Mexico to the United States and even a shorter time since they made their way further north than Texas.

Armadillos do swim. They are a heavy - dense animal. They literally swallow air to keep them afloat. They can dog paddle or even walk on the bottom of the lake or stream.

I had never seen an armadillo in their natural environment until we moved to Oklahoma. We were driving down the road and I caught something unusual out the corner of my eye. I had my husband turn around and sure enough it was an armadillo.

We enjoy camping. We photograph the local wildlife at night. There was one campground where we were allowed to stay during the winter months. We were completely by ourselves and locked in at night. Late one night we were sound asleep when we heard some crash banging outside the tent. We were a bit concerned. Whatever it was walked around the tent, made a great deal of noise, and eventually left. We really had no idea what it had been.

The following fall we were on another camping trip. We were walking through the woods. Since it was fall and there were a number of dead leaves on the ground. We heard this tremendous noise coming straight toward us. We stopped and watched. This thundering, SINGLE armadillo went right by us. We followed it, (not hard considering the noise it was making) it headed straight for the lake and we heard a loud splash. I am glad they are foragers and donít depend on sneaking up on another animal to hunt. That night we came to the conclusion it had to have been an armadillo checking out our campsite and tent the previous camping trip.

They do have lousy eyesight but make up in their acute sense of smell. They also have a pretty good sense of hearing. Their eyes are very light sensitive which is why you wonít see them in bright daylight only at night or on a cloudy day.

You can find armadillo breeders and armadillos for sale. This is usually a good place to start Ė cjexotics. Often you can find armadillos for sale at exoticanimalsforsale.net. This has been an excellent beginning point to find exotic pets or exotic animals for sale.


The female armadillo always gives birth to genetically identical offspring the term for this is polyembryony. They form from the same egg. Since the pups are identical they would of course be all females or all males. Some armadillos, including nine banded armadillo, Embryonic Diapause take place. The fertilized egg doesnít immediately attach to the uterus. Growth of the fetus doesnít begin until implantation occurs. Until the fertilized egg attaches the fertilized egg remains dormant.

Pups or baby armadillos are able to move around just a few hours after birth and their eyes are open at birth. They nurse for approximately two months. They will remain with their mothers until another litter is born.

People often hear that armadillos carry Hansenís disease; or what some people recognize as leprosy. This is extremely rare and a person would most likely come in contact with the bacterium if they ate a raw or under-cooked armadillo. Only a few non human animals can contract Hansenís disease; animals other than the armadillo are mice, rabbits, and some monkeys.

Armadillo photo
Nine Banded Armadillo
Armadillo photo by James Hawkins. Public domain photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net


The armadillo or the Nine Banded armadillo that is mostly common in the United States is certainly an exotic pet that has very different care and needs. Be sure to learn all you can about this little critter before considering obtaining one as a pet. His or her life, is precious as all animalís lives are, and having an exotic animal as a pet is a big responsibility.

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Diana Geiger Exotic Pets Editoron


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