The Life of an Armadillo

armadillo image by Jose Hernaiz from Fotolia.com

The life of an armadillo isn't easy, but these creatures know how to make do with what they have. Despite surprising agility, they suffer from poor eyesight that gets them hit by motor vehicles. The nocturnal armadillo is able to carve out a living for himself in the wild by burrowing and by sticking to areas where they can safely hunt and forage.

Warm Climate Lovers

Armadillos live in warm habitats, usually near the water. While they have a reputation for being desert creatures, they live in areas like the rain forest, the woods and grasslands. This is because they need the heat to survive -- they have low metabolism and don't store much body fat, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of cold weather. Armadillos burrow and tunnel, creating dens throughout their territory so they have multiple places to hole up.

An Armadillo's Diet

Armadillos don't have particularly refined tastes; much of their diet consists of various insects and grubs -- these creatures are close relatives of anteaters. The eat spiders, worms, termites, scorpions and even snakes and small lizards. They do a bit of foraging for fruit and veggies, but most of their diet consists of insects and invertebrates.

Big Sleepers

Much of an armadillo's life is spent sleeping. They're nocturnal animals that do most of their foraging, hunting and burrowing at night, so they can sleep as much as 16 hours a day. Since their eyesight is famously poor anyway, they rely mostly on a keen sense of smell for their travel and hunting -- it ultimately doesn't do them any disservice to hunt in the morning and early evening instead of when sunlight is more abundant.

Physical Limits

Despite their poor eyesight, armadillos are relatively well-equipped for life in the wild. They are strong and effective at digging, allowing them to carve our elaborate burrows or escape from predators. Their legs are strong and agile, and they have long, anteaterlike tongues that are good for scooping insects out of tunnels. Armadillos' armored plating protects them from environmental hazards and predators, though not all armadillos are able to curl up into a perfect ball -- only the three-banded variety.

Photo Credits

Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.