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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Armadillo

The name Armadillo means "little armored one."  The Aztecs called them "turtle rabbits."  In the southeast, they are mockingly referred to as "possum on a half-shell."  Inspiring whimsical nicknames is their only known practical use.

Armadillos are shy, nocturnal, live in burrows, and eat worms and insects.  Armadillos are not attractive animals and in spite of having very poor eyesight, they seem to know it.  They do not share burrows, and when they mate, the female will delay impregnating herself for up to six months.  How this is possible, I can't explain, but ask yourself how quickly you'd want to get pregnant if you'd been inseminated by an armadillo.

Armadillos are also edible, but there is a high correlation between armadillo meat and leprosy. The methodology of this data, however, is rather slipshod.  We are left to wonder if eating armadillos causes leprosy, or if lepers just happen to eat a lot of armadillo.  There are insufficient numbers of lepers or armadillo-eaters for a really conclusive study, so the world's curiosity about this may go forever unsatisfied.

At any rate, there is no shortage of armadillos.  We have lots of those.  Although all species originated in South America, they are no longer confined there.  Not by a long shot.  They have been spotted as far north as Illinois.  One armadillo expert believes they may be traveling by train.  (This particular armadillo expert lives in Michigan, which is as far from Armadillo-Central as you can get, which ought to tell you something.)

The armadillo is the only surviving member of the Order of Cingulata, which sounds pretty impressive until you realize that the entire order basically consisted of different sizes of armadillos.  The smallest armadillo is the Pink Fairy Armadillo, which is not nearly as adorable as it sounds, and the largest was the now extinct glyptodont which was just another armadillo, except it was as big as a car.

One last fact about armadillos: when alarmed, they jump straight up into the air.  This means, if you drive over one, they may jump straight up into your engine.  Something you might want to keep in mind when driving at night.

3 comments:

  1. Arrmadillos look a lot like speed bumps, which is why there are so many dead armadillos on the highways in Texas. Texans never stop for speed bumps.

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  2. Armadillos in Illinois - who would have guessed? Personally, I don't think I'd ever try to eat one myself.

    Also, you'll probably get a lot more comments on your blog, if you turn off captcha please.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
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  3. I think It'd have to be reallllly hungry to find out if an armadillo was edible! But since I live in Michigan, I'll have to make do with possums.

    Lisa @ Tales from the Love Shaque

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