Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Southern Three-Banded Armadillo

(Tolypeutes matacus)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in grasslands, savannahs, and marshes in parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay.

Size: 8-13 inches; 4-7 pounds

Wild Diet: Primarily termites, beetle larvae, and ants; also leaves, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and carrion

Predators: Jaguars, maned wolves, and humans

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Reproduction: Southern three-banded armadillos are ready to mate around 9-12 months of age. After a 120 day gestation, females deliver a single offspring weighing less than 4 ounces (twins are rare). Newborns have soft, leathery skin that turns into a hard, protective shell a few weeks later. Young are weaned after 10-11 weeks.

Behavior: Southern three-banded armadillos are usually solitary but sometimes huddle in cold weather. They den in abandoned burrows or under dense vegetation. They use strong legs and large claws to dig for insects.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Southern three-banded armadillo populations are declining as their habitat is lost and they are hunted for food. Their slow reproductive rate makes it difficult for populations to recover from any kind of pressure. Armadillos exported for the pet trade have a high mortality rate during the export process.

Did you know?

  • When burrowing, southern three-banded armadillos can hold their breath for up to 6 minutes.
  • This is the only armadillo species able to close its shell completely, with its tail tucked next to its head.