Armadillo Skin and How it Helps Them

Florida  armadillos are shy, quiet, solitary creatures. Their dinosaur like appearance is true to form, as they have been on this earth for 55 million years. What is that scaly skin, and why is it important to the armadillo? These extraordinary animals are the only mammals in the world with armor. Having armor gives it unique abilities, and unusual features.

The armor, called a carapace, consist of ossified or bone- like external plates. These dermal plates are in turn covered by modified skin. This skin, called keratinized, is actually no longer living, but filled with keratin. Keratinized skin is somewhat flexible, but has a leathery texture. It is also waterproof because of the Keratin content. They have two major bands, called shields. One is in the front and one the rear. These shields are separated by 8-11 movable bands. Nine is the average number, hence the name- nine-banded Tampa armadillos.

The bands all have a soft strip of skin between them allowing for greater flexibility of movement. The Florida armadillo’s head is covered in thin, protective plates called scutes. Because the shell is actually very thin, the armadillo has problems regulating its body temperature, and so it stays in warmer climates. The head, tail and all exposed parts of the legs are also covered in armor. The Armadillo’s long tail is also ringed with bands of armor. The armor provides the creature with excellent protection in thorny underbrush, and sharp sticks.

It also enables the Tampa armadillo to take cover in thickets that their predators cannot maneuver. The Armadillo’s skin is much similar to a knight wearing a set of armor, as well as it has other interesting uniqueness. If an Armadillo is threatened by any larger creatures, they can make use of their claws to plow themselves into the ground. Having an armored back not only protects the Armadillos’ normally soft skin, but keeps them starting being flipped over plus vulnerable. Florida armadillos tend live out their 12-15 years in relative solitude. They are shy and will do their best avoiding hazardous situations.

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