Armadillos: Mammals with Armor

Armadillos are mammals. Mammals give birth to live babies. Moms feed their babies milk from their bodies. Mammals have hair or fur.

When we see an armadillo, we don't notice the fur. Armadillos do have some fur on their bellies. But from head to tail, their bodies are covered by bony plates. The plates are covered with tough, leathery skin. This body armor gives the armadillo its name. Armadillo means "little armored one" in Spanish. Armadillos are the only mammals to have a tough outer "shell." They are one of the oldest mammals on Earth. They have lived here since the time of the dinosaurs.

Armadillos have short, fat bodies. Their heads are long and pointy. They have small eyes. Armadillos can't see very well. They have a keen sense of smell that helps them find food. They have short legs. Each foot has long, thick claws. Armadillos walk on their tip-toes. As a result, their tracks look more like bird footprints. They have long, sticky tongues. They eat plants and bugs. They like to eat ants, termites, and grub worms. They also eat plants, roots, and soft fruit.

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