Armadillo -- Official Mascot of Texas

Types of Armadillos In the U.S. and What They Eat

There are twenty some different species of armadillos, but only the 9 banded armadillo lives in Texas. – or for that matter, anywhere in the United States. About the size of a very large housecat and weighing as much as 18 pounds, armadillos eat grubs, spiders, insects, earthworms, and smaller reptiles and amphibians, so armadillos can be quite useful in keeping the supply of unwanted critters down. They even eat ants, including fire ants. Anything that destroys or removes fire ants makes points with me.

9-Banded armadillo
9-Banded armadillo | Source

Unusual Armadillo Characteristics

Armadillos are mammals with some unusual characteristics. When they give birth, there are always 4 babies and those babies are always the same sex. They are identical quadruplets because the fertilized egg splits into quarters.

If that is not unusual enough, armadillos can willfully delay implantation of a fertilized egg when they are in a stressful situation, and they can do that for a very long time. Weird Facts.com reports that at least one captured female delayed implantation of a fertilized egg so that she did not give birth for 2 years! The normal gestation period for armadillos is 8-9 months.

Weird Facts.com also states that an armadillo’s sex organs remain active even after being separated, or “disconnected” from the armadillo. There was no explanation of this statement, and maybe that is just as well . . .

3-Banded Armadillo rolled into a ball to protect it's soft underbelly from predators.
3-Banded Armadillo rolled into a ball to protect it's soft underbelly from predators. | Source

Armadillo Defenses Against Predators

When an armadillo is frightened, it sometimes jumps into the air in an effort to scare predators. If that fails it will run like . . . crazy, and attempt to find a secure hiding place. Failing that, it will sometimes fall down dead – pretend dead, that is. So if you see an armadillo lying on it’s back with feet in the air, it may not be what it looks like. It is an armadillo, but not a dead armadillo – necessarily.

Armadillos loose teeth throughout their lives, but still have about a hundred teeth at any given time. Do not put your fingers in their mouth.

The three-banded armadillo is the only member of the species that can roll itself up into a ball in order to protect its soft underbelly from predators. The carapace, or shell, which is the armadillo’s main defense against predators, is made of a combination of bone and tough tissue coating that includes approximately 2,000 scales that are composed of keratin, which is a protein.

How Stuff Works explains, “The carapace is divided into the anterior scapular shield over its forequarters and the posterior pelvic shield over its hindquarters. Between those two shields are a series of bands that vary depending on the armadillo species. These softer bands look like an accordion and allow for mobility. In most armadillos, the two shields are attached to the skin on all sides.”

It is a little different for the three-banded armadillo. “Its shields are unattached along its lateral sides, and it has extra room between the skin and the shell for tucking in [it’s appendages – tail, legs, etc.]. Other armadillos can hunch over to attempt to conceal most of their abdomens, but their shields provide no space for retracting their limbs,” (HowStuffWorks.com).

Armadillos Can Walk Under the Water

Armadillos can stop breathing for as long as 6 minutes at a time, and they can walk under the water. They do not swim, but will walk under the water on the bottom of a lake or stream to get to the other side.

I have read that armadillos can be housebroken. Having an armadillo for a live-in pet could be the healthy way to keep your home insect free in lieu of pesticides and insecticides. Although armadillos are the only animal other than humans that can contract leprosy, and it is possible to get that disease from an armadillo.

Armadillo with a long tongue for reaching insects and ants in difficult places.
Armadillo with a long tongue for reaching insects and ants in difficult places. | Source

Armadillos Became the Official Mascot of Texas In 1981

The armadillo has been a popular Texas souvenir since before the 1900s – not the real animal, but items shaped and painted like armadillos, or items having armadillos painted on them.

In the 1970s armadillo racing became popular entertainment not only in Texas, but all over the world. That remains true today. If you would like to observe some armadillo races, there is a short video of an armadillo race at the end of this hub.

The armadillo became the official mascot for the state of Texas in 1981 by executive decree. Bill Clements, governor of Texas at the time, signed the order because the Texas Legislature was not keen on making the armadillo the official state animal of Texas, and so they voted the attempt down.

Armadillo Race

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Comments 74 comments

Au fait profile image

Au fait 21 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for coming back. Yes, I had one person share another hubber's hub and it came through the feed 20 times in a row! Started out they were coming through 8 at a time, but it kept getting more and more. Hopefully it's fixed.

Weather is bad still, though thankfully the ice has melted and hopefully won't come back. To be 20 or less in the morning. :(

Hope all is well there. Thank you for checking back.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

I don't think that the share went through the other day...or perhaps it did multiple times. Hopefully that glitch is now repaired so will share this once again.

Sorry your weather is so bad up there right now. Try to be safe! Hopefully it will warm up soon.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 21 months ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts on this article and for the share. I don't think I've ever seen a live armadillo in all the years I've lived here.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 21 months ago from Houston, Texas

Several months ago when we were getting some heavy rain and some streets were flooded, it made the local news that a policeman stopped traffic to let an armadillo safely get across a road. He must have been a real animal lover and the fact that the armadillo was out during the day was most probably because his normal haunt was perhaps flooded. Normally they roam about at night and are seldom seen during the day (unless dead on the side of a road). Sharing once again.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for coming by Deborah-Diane, and for sharing this article. These little guys are very helpful in keeping pests away, although they can make a mess of a yard digging up grubs.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California

With the weather warming up, people in states like Texas will be seeing more Armadillos. I thought I would re-share this, because most people know so little about these fascinating animals!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for pinning this article!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

Going to pin this informative hub to my Amazing HubPages board. These are certainly interesting creatures!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping in Glenda. Haven't seen you for a while. Hope all is well with you. We're having a cold snap here, but otherwise everything is pretty much as usual. Just too much to do!


Glenda Jacks 3 years ago

Sorry, but I been on vacation, don't have Wifi, hope you are well.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron for stopping by and voting on, sharing, and pinning this article and for all you do -- most of all for your friendship. Armadillos are cute and eat nasty bugs, though they will tear up your yard if you have grubs.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Au fait, I like out state's mascot, sharing, voted up, AI, like on fb and pinned to Amazing HubPages.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

MJ (MJennifer), thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this unique and interesting creature! Some people will stoop to any depth -- stealing Willy Nelson's stuffed armadillo -- what's the world coming too? Thank you for your praise. Glad you enjoyed! :)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

rebeccamealey, thank you for reading this article and leaving a comment! Armadillos are indeed placental mammals, and not part reptile and part mammal as some people want to imagine.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you PegCole17 for reading and sharing your thoughts/experiences with and about armadillos! They are usually preferable to the things they eat, so maybe your mother can learn to love them . . . ;)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Levertis Steele, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Peggy W, thank you for tweeting and sharing this article!


MJennifer profile image

MJennifer 3 years ago from Arizona

AuFait, I enjoyed this so much! I've always been fond of armadillos -- from a distance, unfortunately, as they don't reside here. Utterly fascinating animals. Heck, I even enjoyed seeing the stuffed armadillo that always went along with Willie Nelson's band on tour -- which, it turns out, was stolen by some woman in NYC last month. What a terrific hub about these interesting critters!

Best -- MJ


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Wow, I thought armadillos were reptiles. They are mammals. Very cool Hub!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

These little critters are so cute. That close up of that one's face was one that only a mother could love. A little family of four armadillos lives behind my Mom's house and I got a call one day saying I needed to come over quickly. She said rather urgently, "There's a really ugly creature in my yard." Usually they stay behind the fenced portion of the yard but she'd left her trash on the back porch. Ugg. That explained it.


Levertis Steele profile image

Levertis Steele 3 years ago from Southern Clime

What critters! I have seen a few armadillos near my house, but I always avoid them.

Nice and interesting hub!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Giving this good article a tweet! Have already pinned it. Will share again.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you moonlake for pinning this hub!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Going to pin this to my animal board.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for sharing your appreciation for armadillos, Shyron. ;) They are quite useful in eating grubs and fire ants, but I think they make a mess of the yard. Still, even that is a minor thing if you've ever had the experience of being attacked by fire ants. I have.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

I need an armadillo or two, the rain we have had today will bring out the fire ants straight from hell.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping in Healthyannie. Believe it or not, I have never seen a live armadillo and I've been living in TX a long time. They're quite useful in keeping the grubs and things down.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you mperrottet for reading, commenting, voting on and sharing this hub! Yes armadillos do like to eat the new fire ant brood which is usually closest t the surface in a huge fire ant mound. They do dig up the area pretty well, but I don't suppose that's any more of an inconvenience than the fire ant mound's presence is in the first place.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Paul Kuehn for reading, commenting, voting on, and sharing/ tweeting/pinning this article!

In fact the badger is the Wisconsin state animal. Here in Texas there was a lot of controversy about making the armadillo the state animal and so finally the governor at the time (think I put this in the hub) finally just signed an order to make it the state mascot. He didn't have the power to make it the state animal, and had to settle for mascot.

Aardvarks and anteaters are actually different species and I suspect that is also true of armadillos.


Healthyannie profile image

Healthyannie 3 years ago from Spain

Armadillos - I love this little guys. I remember seeing one in Florida once. He sounded a bit like a pig and he was quite happy "snuffling" around in my friend's garden.


mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I've seen lots of armadillos traveling, and most recently saw a couple on a bike ride that I took with my son in Florida. You have such interesting facts about them in this hub. I'm with you - if they eat fire ants, they're good with me. Voted up, interesting and sharing.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Aufait,

Thank you once again for another awesome, very interesting hub. Until I read this article, I knew very little about armadillos. Are they related to the aardvarks which are anteaters? Now that I also know the armadillo is Texas' official mascot, you have given me an idea about writing about the badger which is Wisconsin's official mascot. Voted up and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning and Tweeting.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for pinning this hub!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I can see you are getting many comments on this interesting hub. We saw some buzzards cleaning a dead armadillo carcass on the side of the road a few days ago on our way to the gym. Not an unusual site in our area! Am going to pin this to my animals board on Pinterest.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for stopping by Shyron. Armadillos love ants and grubs, but they will make a mess of your yard where they dig them up. A pet armadillo might be interesting though . . . ;)


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reading and commenting on this hub. Armadillos are very unique and unusual animals. Glad you enjoyed this hub!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

We used to live in Texas and saw a few armadillo, but I never knew much about them. Thank you for your informative article!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for your comment Shyron. You are so right about Texas and armadillos!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

The little beasts are back, I need an armadillo or two, they would stay fat and happy. If you see one that needs a home, send it my way.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

This is very interesting. I can understand why it would be a mascot for Texas it is such a unique animal, Texas is a unique state.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you, vespawoolf, for reading, commenting, and voting on this hub! Armadillos are strange odd animals. I knew they could walk under water, and a few other peculiar things, but I too learned a lot about them in my research. Glad you enjoyed!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

My goodness, I knew armadillos were unique but I didn't know they had so many odd characteristics! This was an interesting read. I didn't know there are different varieties of armadillos, either. Voted up!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you rajan jolly for reading, commenting, and voting on this hub! The armadillo is indeed unusual and I'm glad you enjoyed learning about it.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Au fait, now this is very interesting. I'd never heard of this animal before this so it was very educative reading this info. The facts are indeed unusual.

Voting this up, awesome and interesting.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

I didn't find any source that said armadillos would eat moles, but I did find one source that said, "armadillos will eat anything." How accurate that is, I can't say, which is why I didn't include it in my hub. Armadillos do pose problems with lawns however, because they will dig it up to get the grubs if you have them. Thank you Shyron, for reading and commenting on this hub! Good luck with the moles -- get a cat. ;)


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

I would love to have one around our house, to keep the fire ants away. Do they eat moles.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Tillsontitan for reading and commenting on my hub, and for the votes. Glad you enjoyed!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Shyron, for reading and commenting. I have still never seen a real armadillo in any condition.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you bryanbaldwin for reading and commenting on my hub! Glad you enjoyed!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Jeff Gamble for reading and commenting on my hub, and for adding useful information to the discussion. I wonder why no one thinks they can swim? You can't be the only person who witnessed them doing that. Thanks for your input!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

tammyswallow: Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub! In fact armadillos can be found in varying numbers all over the U.S., but do best in warmer climates so they're mainly in the Southern half of the U.S. It is only the 9-banded armadillo that is here in TX. There are 20 some different species and some of them can be found outside of TX.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

I've learned so much about armadillos, so many things I never knew. This was a great idea for a hub and you presented it so well with so much good information.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Brett.Tesol, for reading, commenting, voting on, and sharing my hub! Armadillos are odd creatures with interesting talents as you say. I was surprised a few years ago when I learned that they walk under water.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 4 years ago

Awesome, interesting and useful. I have only seen one in 16 years and it was road kill. I think the coyotes keep them away,

We have had roadrunners, wild turkeys and lots of other animals, I would love to watch them.

Thanks for the interesting hub.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

bdegiulio, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub! We only have the 9-banded armadillo here in Texas and only the 3-banded armadillo can curl itself into a ball like the photo included here.

You and your family will have to visit Texas sometime and check out the wildlife. Just be sure to bring some good comfortable knee high boots along if you plan to go hiking.


bryanbaldwin profile image

bryanbaldwin 4 years ago from Los Angeles

Armadillos are pretty darn cute.... this was fun to read.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Ann1Az2, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub and for the vote! I've had no personal experience with armadillos, but my former husband who is a Texan through and through (born here of course) has told me stories about them. Glad this hub brought back some good memories for you.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you for reading and commenting moonlake, and for the votes! Yes these animals seem to have some very strange abilities and habits.


Jeff Gamble profile image

Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

That is a great article on armadillos! Having moved here from Mass several years back, I was amazed at how common they are in Texas. I will have to disagree with the point about not being able to swim. My basset chased a pair of young ones in to our pool last spring. They dropped in to the deep end and propelled themselves across to a step near the shallow end where they climbed out and took off. It was the strangest thing I had ever seen.


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

I didn't know these only lived in Texas. I also didn't know they roll up into balls. Very interesting hub!


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

I always thought these little critters were cool, but I had no idea that they possessed so many unique talents. The one about giving birth is certainly a rare ability!!

Shared and voted across.


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Really interesting hub. I have always been fascinated with the armadillo. Love the picture sequence of one curling up into a ball. We don't see them up here in New England. Great job.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Jamie Brock for reading and commenting on my hub! It took a while to get armadillos in as the mascot. The TX legislature never would agree to make it the state animal. I think given the armadillos chances of contracting and spreading leprosy I would stick with cats and dogs for pets -- maybe a ferret, they're so cute!

I used to live in Plainview just south Amarillo. We were neighbors and didn't even know it!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you sgbrown for reading and commenting on my hub! There are insecticides that will get rid of the grubs so that the armadillos won't bother your garden and lawn. Grubs are bad for your garden and lawn anyway, so there's another reason to get rid of them.

If you don't want to use insecticides, and I don't blame you for that, there are natural solutions that you can use that won't harm the environment. Just Google "getting rid of grubs from your lawn and garden." I found some good solutions but I didn't want to put their URLs here.

Getting rid of the grubs helps your garden and lawn and armadillos will be less likely to be interested in your yard. Then you won't have to do those things to get rid of the armadillos that you suggested. That must be a bit of an effort too, so use the natural way to kill 2 birds with one stone.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Angela Blair, thank you for reading and commenting on my hub. Yes, I can see where armadillos could be a bit of a problem if you're on horseback.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Jason Matthews for reading and commenting on my hub. Only the 3-banded armadillo can roll up like the photos above demonstrate.

There was a lot of disagreement about making the armadillo the Texas state animal, which is why it is only the official mascot and even that honor had to be bestowed by executive decree because the TX Legislature would not agree to it.


Ann1Az2 profile image

Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

Interesting hub, Au fait. Being from Texas, I enjoyed it very much. We used to have a family of armadillos that lived under a shed. I miss them now that we've moved. I would see them occasionally at night (they kept to themselves during the daytime).

Voted up.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas Author

Thank you Peggy W for reading and commenting and for sharing!

It might be less expensive and easier to just treat the lawn for grubs, etc., than to keep buying soil and filling the holes. Then the armadillos will go elsewhere instead. Probably to the neighbors. ;)


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Very interesting hub on a very strange animal. They are kind of cute in a way. We had them around when we lived in Texas. Voted up on your hub.


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 4 years ago from Texas

This is really interesting Au fait! It is embarrassing that I've lived in Texas pretty much my whole life and never knew anything about Armadillos or the 9 banded one in particular. I've seen them dead on the side of the road a few times ( I think!) I was surprised to hear that they can be a house pet.. I bet they would be fun to watch but I don't know if I would want one in the house. I was looking at the face of the one in the pic you shared and they are very weird looking creatures. I love hubs like this that have so many surprising facts. I used to live in Amarillo TX. I wonder if Amarillo TX somehow got it's name from the Armadillo? I guess I"ll have to go look it up. Great hub, voting up!!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

We have a lot of armadillo here in Southern Oklahoma. During the dry season, they can RUIN a lawn. One armadillo can take out your flower beds and your lawn in 1 night! However, they don't always do a lot of damage. I have one visiting my flower beds right now. They tend do dig beside the plants to get to the grubs, so as long as they are not digging up my plants I leave them alone. I won't tell you what we do to those that decide to destroy my lawn. (Shhhhh.) I really think they are kind of cute and enjoy watching them as long as they stay in the woods. Voted up and interesting!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

During the ranching years armadillos were just a way of life. They're very good to hide in brush, etc. and just as one gets even with them (horseback) they jump straight up and run -- and needless to say startle one's horse. I never took a spill because of one but came very close on numerous occasions. Interesting and well written Hub. Best/Sis


Jason Matthews profile image

Jason Matthews 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a very interesting and unique hub! Armadillos are pretty crazy animals and their ability to roll up into a ball is amazing. I had no idea that the armadillo was the official mascot of Texas. Thanks for sharing!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

My mother used to have a home near an undeveloped wooded area of the subdivision where we both had homes prior to moving here to this one. Because of her sprinkler system, her lawn was obviously easier to dig than the wooded area which only relied upon rain. She had a terrible time of armadillos often digging up portions of her yard in search of insects. When they dig, the dirt flies away so that they leave all of these little holes in the ground. No mound to push back into the hole...so we were constantly filling the holes with more bagged dirt purchased from the nursery. Thus...they can be quite the pest at times!

Interesting facts about the armadillo. I did not realize that it was the official mascot of the State of Texas. Voted up, interesting and will share.

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