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Wait, armadillos in Iowa? Yes, you may get a glimpse of one of these unique critters in our state from time to time. If you do, send a report our way, as we’d like to document their location in the state. In the meantime, did you know these interesting facts?
Not just Texas
You may think first of Texas when you hear “armadillo” – it’s the Texas state (small) mammal, after all – but the nine-banded armadillo is just one of 20 armadillo species worldwide. The nine-banded armadillo ranges from Argentina and Uruguay to the United States. They’ve been expanding northward from Texas and Mexico for more than 100 years.
Sure, they have those handy armored plates to help protect them, but armadillos can also jump 3 to 4 feet straight up in the air to avoid or scare predators. However, this trait often leads to their demise on roadsides, where they jump to avoid the predator (vehicle), but end up crashing into the underside of the vehicle instead.
Loosely translated, “armadillo” means “little armored one” in Spanish, and it’s fitting for their young. Armadillos always give birth to identical quadruplets!
Their armor may steal the show, but these little mammals have impressive claws, which they use to burrow underground. But they don’t just stick to land – armadillos can walk underwater and hold their breath for up to six minutes!
Insects are the cuisine of choice for the mostly nocturnal, semi-toothless armadillo. These small critters, which average about 12 pounds and 30 inches, have poor sight but an outstanding sense of smell.
While armadillos may make their way into Iowa now and then, they’re not likely to survive our cold and harsh winters.
Send your first-hand sighting reports, including specific location details and photos if available, as well as your contact information to James.Coffey@dnr.iowa.gov so that we can track armadillo sightings in Iowa.
For more, check out our Iowa Wildlife board on Pinterest.