Giant armadillos are found in South America, east of the Andes, from
northwestern Venezuela to northeastern Argentina. They live in burrows
near water in grassland, brushland, woodland and forest habitats. The
giant armadillo was once widespread in the tropical forests, but now,
because of over-hunting and the expansion of human settlement, and the
corresponding loss of their natural habitat, they are now endangered.
The largest of the armadillos, the giant armadillo can reach up to
130 lbs, but most range from 40 to 70 lbs. The head and body of giant
armadillos are usually between two and four feet long, and their tails
reach about 2 feet. The necks and backs of giant armadillos are covered
in flexible "armor" consisting of 14 to 17 moveable bands of horn and
bone. Their heads are protected by a similar oval shield. Small, closely
set plates of armor cover their tales.
Giant armadillos are dark brown except for their heads, tails and the
lower edges of their shells, which are nearly white. Giant armadillos
have sparse hairs scattered between their plates. Their forefeet have
large powerful claws. They are very agile, and sometimes balance themselves
on their hind legs and tails, with their forefeet off the ground.
The diet of giant armadillos consists of termites, ants, insects, spiders,
worms, larvae, snakes and carrion. If a giant armadillo happens to stumble
upon a termite mound, it wouldn't be uncommon for it to devour the entire
Giant armadillos are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active at
night and sleep during the day. They are powerful and quick diggers.
Giant armadillos dig the burrows they travel through and live in. They
also dig to find food and to escape predators.
After a gestation period of four months, females give birth to one
or two young. Newborns have leathery skin and weigh up to four pounds
at birth. They can live twelve to fifteen years.