Cabassous centralisnorthern naked-tailed armadillo

Geographic Range

Cabassous centralis is found in South America, including the area east of the Andes from northern Argentina to Colombia. It is also found in Central America from Panama into Guatemala (Peten region).


Generally inhabit grasslands and wooded areas. Prefer areas with thick vegetation as a method of hiding from predators. They live in burrows with the entrance opening to open ground or the base of an embankment.

Physical Description

The body of Cabassous centralis ranges from 30 cm to 71 cm. The tail varies from 10 cm to 18 cm. Cabassous centralis is called the naked-tail armadillo because its tail lacks the protective, keratinous plates found on its body. They are also called eleven-banded armadillos for the number of bands that make up their "armor." Some hair can be found in the spaces between the bands, on the limbs, and on the ventral surface of the body. Large claws adapted for digging are found on both the forefeet and hindfeet. The middle claw is especially large and sickle-shaped. Coloration is dark brown to almost black with yellow lateral areas and a yellow-gray underside. The head is broad with a short, wide snout and well-separated ears. This species walks on the tips of its claws on its forefeet and on the soles of the hindfeet. It is capable running rapidly for short distances to escape danger.

  • Range mass
    2 to 3 kg
    4.41 to 6.61 lb
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    4.812 W


Not much research has been done specifically on the reproduction patterns of C. centralis.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring


Armadillos are solitary creatures but some have been known to travel in pairs or small groups. They are nocturnal and begin their activity after sunset.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Diet consists almost exclusively of insects. These include larvae and adult scarab beetles, termites, and ants. They are also known to eat earthworms, bird eggs, and small reptiles and amphibians. C. centralis, like other armadillo species, use their digging abilities to burrow into termite mounds in search of food. Prey is extracted from the tunnels by a long, extensible tongue. They can locate insects in the soil by their keen sense of smell.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

C. centralis eat some species of insects that are harmful to farm crops. They are not considered a threat to crops like some other species of armadillos.

Conservation Status


Jason Chang (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


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.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


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


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.


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.


Kalmbach, E. 1943. The Armadillo: Its Relation to Agriculture and Game. Austin, Texas: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nowak, R. 1997. "Naked-tail Armadillos" (On-line). Accessed October 14, 1999 at

Smith, L., R. Doughty. 1984. The Amazing Armadillo: Geography of a Folk Critter. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

Vaughn, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 1999. Mammalogy. New York: Saunders College Publishing.