Euphractus sexcinctussix-banded armadillo

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Geographic Range

South America east of the Andes mountains in dry savannahs or in parts of wet savannahs. Their burrows are typically located in grasslands.

Habitat

Euphractus sexcinctus inhabits South American savannahs, preferring (but not limited to) drier areas.

Physical Description

On average, an adult measures 406mm from head to body and has a tail 2/3 as long. These armadillos are distinguished by their pointed and flattened heads, which are covered by large plates arranged in a distinctive pattern. Their body consists of 6-8 moveable bands, which are covered with thin grey-brown hair. They have 5 toes, and their claws are well developed for digging and constructing burrows.

  • Average mass
    5 kg
    11.01 lb
  • Average mass
    4850 g
    170.93 oz
    AnAge
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    6.901 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

The female usually gives birth to a litter of 1-3 (both male and female) baby armadillos in a nest that she has built herself. These babies may be born anytime during the year after a gestation period of 60-64 days. There is a possibility of a time delay between fertilization and the implantation of the egg in the wall of the female's uterus. Babies weigh about 95-115 grams at birth and their eyes open after 22-25 days. During the first month of their lives, the babies quadruple their weight and by the end of the month are able to consume solid foods. Within nine months the baby armadillo matures into an adult.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    2
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    68 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    274 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    274 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Euphractus sexcinctus live in self-dug burrows in the savannahs of South America. Their burrows are characterized by a single, inverted, u-shaped entrance. This particular species gives off a characteristic odor from scent glands located at the base of their tails. These scents are used to mark their territories. Euphractus are largely diurnal but occasionally come out at night. If threatened by conspecifics, they fight amongst themselves with their teeth and claws. If a mother's young are disturbed she will act aggressively and try to hide or move them to a safer location. However, these armadillos are mainly timid animals generally run to escape predators rather than stay and fight. They are good swimmers and stay afloat by swallowing air. Bouyancy in the water is also aided by the armadillos good fat storing ability, which is believed to be related to seasonal scarcity of food.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Euphractus sexcinctus is omnivorous. Plant material(including bromeliad fruit, tubers, palm nuts) composes 90% of the diet. Insects such as ants and termites, carrion, and small vertebrates such as frogs are also consumed. These armadillos have been observed to feed on dead carcasses by standing on them and ripping off pieces held in their jaws.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

A small number of E. sexcinctus are hunted and killed for thier meat in northeastern Brazil. In addition to being used in a small scale meat market. the armadillos are killed for their tails, which are used by Argentinian Indians for carrying their firemaking tools.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Euphractus sexcinctus may damage sprouting corn.

Conservation Status

Although E. sexcinctus is not given any special status as an endangered or threatened species, it is important to note that they are often trapped and killed by farmers because of the armadillo's love for sprouting corn shoots.

Other Comments

Euphractus sexcinctus can live up to 15 1/2 years.

Contributors

Brittany Bird (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Encyclopedia Britannica. Volume 1. Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. 1989.

Journal of Zoology. Vol. 222(1) 1990: 27-47. "The anatomy abd functioning of the feeding apparatus in two armadillos".

Mammalian Species. Vol. 252 1985: 1-4. "Euphractus sexcinctus".