Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Handling

Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). Photo by John and Karen Hollingsworth, USFWS.


Armadillos are a small group of mammals that occur only in the Americas. They are distantly related to anteaters and sloths. The word “armadillo” is Spanish for “little armored one.”

Physical Description

The armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) has a protective armor of “horny” material on its head, body, and tail. This bony armor has nine movable rings between the shoulder and hip shield. The head is small with a long, narrow, pig-like snout. Canine and incisor teeth are absent. The peg-like cheek teeth range in number from seven to nine on each side of the upper and lower jaw. The long tapering tail is encased in 12 bony rings. The track usually appears to be three-toed and shows sharp claw marks. The armadillo is about the size of an opossum, weighing from 8 to 17 pounds (3.5 to 8 kg).

Legal Status

Armadillos are unprotected in most states.

Species Range

Armadillos range from Texas to southeast New Mexico, through Oklahoma, southeast Kansas,
southwest Missouri, Arkansas, and southwest Mississippi. Their range includes central Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, and has extended northward in recent times.

Range of the armadillos in North America. Image by PCWD.

Voices and Sounds

Armadillos make low grunting sounds when feeding or when mothers call to their young. Other sounds are described as “wheezy grunt,” “pig‐like,” “buzzing,” and “weak purring” by young armadillos while attempting to nurse.

Tracks and Signs

Tracks usually include marks from the forward 3 toes and sharp claws.

Tracks of the armadillo. Image by Dee Ebbeka.


Information on this species is based on the chapter in Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage (Hygnstrom, Larson, Timm, ed. 1994), written by Donald W. Hawthorne (USDA-APHIS-Animal Damage Control).