19 Three-Banded Armadillo Facts You’ll Never Forget

Three-banded armadillo facts are fascinating to study.

Tolypeutes matacus or La Plata's armadillo is endemic to the South American states of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. They prefer wide, spacious grasslands and wet rainforests as their natural habitat. Their strong carapace made up of scales and plates protects them from all threats. They can roll up like a ball and slide inside the carapace. This species of armadillos mostly thrive on termites and ants and have a life span of 15-20 years. Often known as the Azara's domed armadillo, they also eat dead human flesh!

Continue reading for more facts about the three-banded armadillo. Also, check out our articles on the gray wolf and the Mexican wolf.

Three-Banded Armadillo

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Ants, termites, mollusks, worms, carrion, and insects

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

2.2-3.5 lb (1-1.6 kg)

How long are they?

8.7-10.6 in (22-27 cm)

How tall are they?

3.9-5.9 in (10-15 cm)

What do they look like?

Light or dark brown, red or yellowish, black, and gray

Skin Type

Dry and hard carapace

What are their main threats?

Habitat destruction, jaguars, and pumas

What is their conservation status?

razilian three-banded armadillo: Vulnerable Southern three-banded armadillo: Near Threatened

Where you'll find them

Open tropical savannahs, dry woodlands, marshy areas, and temperate grasslands


South America





Scientific Name

Brazilian armadillo: Tolypeutes tricinctus Southern armadillo: Tolypeutes matacus





Three-Banded Armadillo Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a three-banded armadillo?

Armadillos are mammals and are the most popular species of armadillos.

What class of animal do three-banded armadillos belong to?

The armadillo belongs to the class Mammalia. It belongs to the kingdom Animalia.

How many three-banded armadillos are there in the world?

The exact population of this species of armadillo is not known as no research has been done because of the extreme inconstancies in the population. Population density is low in places where human population density is high. The population is rapidly declining due to hunting.

Where do three-banded armadillos live?

This species of armadillos are endemic to South America. Found in temperate parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay, these animals are quite spread and live at an elevation range of 2530 ft (771 m). Brazilian armadillos are native only to Brazil.

What is a three-banded armadillo's habitat?

They are found in open savannas and dry woodlands. Their habitat must be aided by a low range of rainfall and should have scant vegetation or tall and woody grasslands. On the northern range of the continent of South America, plantations and bushes also serve as a good habitat for these animals.

Who do the three-banded armadillos live with?

Armadillos usually are not socially active animals. They generally live alone, but they move from one place to another in pairs or small groups.

How long does a three-banded armadillo live?

A Tolypeutes matacus usually lives for about 15-20 years. They are susceptible to predation by adult jaguars, pumas, coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, and even some raptors. If they are close to human livelihood, they are hunted by people and domestic dogs, reducing their lifespan. The lifespan of younger ones is half that of adults.

How do they reproduce?

The process of reproduction in this species of armadillo is performed sexually. A male armadillo's penis extends two-thirds of the body helping in better penetration through the armored carapace into the vaginal opening of the females. They usually court before they mate between October and January. The gestation period lasts for up to 120 days. Only one blind offspring is born at a time. The eyes and earflaps open and the carapace hardens after three to four weeks. The armored carapace is soft when born but it hardens by the time the eyes open. The claws are tough and sharp right after birth. Juveniles take a few hours to develop and walk and roll into a ball or close their hard shell. Weaning goes on for 10 weeks after they are born and attain sexual maturity for reproduction after nine to 12 months. The female gives birth throughout the year. An armadillo moves independently after 72 days.

What is their conservation status?

These two kinds of armadillos are at a dangerous status of conservation. While the Brazilian ones are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, the southern ones are Near Threatened. The population of these animals is rapidly declining due to poaching.

Three-Banded Armadillo Fun Facts

What do three-banded armadillos look like?

A Tolypeutes matacus has a brownish color pattern.  Covered with a carapace, the armadillo is well protected from predators. The carapace with three bands never sticks to the skin, thus enabling the feet, hands, and head to slide in when facing danger. The hairy skin underneath the carapace is quite tender. The armored shell of this animal is usually made up of stealthy plates, skutes, made up of bones. It rolls into a ball and slides inside its carapace when it senses a threat. The hind limbs have three toes that are conjoined making the claws look big to search for food. The tail of this animal is sturdy.

How cute are they?

These animals do not usually harm anyone until disturbed. This animal rolls up into a cute ball, resembling a coconut. Since this species of armadillos curl up, cuddle, and slide inside a thick carapace, they seem to be quite cute. However, they are rarely kept as pets.

How do they communicate?

Communication in armadillos happens primarily by sound and smell. They have two types of perception channels, tactile and chemical. They have glands under their skin that secrete specific secretions from their bodies. They have a strong sense of smell.

How big is a three-banded armadillo?

The total length of an armadillo is  11-13.7 in (28-35 cm) with a tail length of 2.4-3 in (6-8 cm), and are 3.9–5.9 in (10–15 cm) tall. The giant armadillo is almost 10 times larger than Azara's domed armadillos.

How fast can three-banded armadillos run?

A Tolypeutes matacus can reach a speed of up to 30 mph (48 kph).

How much does a three-banded armadillo weigh?

This armadillo weighs around 2.2–3.5 lb (1–1.6 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The female ones are named zed, whereas, the males are called lister.

What would you call a baby three-banded armadillo?

A baby armadillo is called a pup.

What do they eat?

The Tolypeutes matacus is an insectivore and its diet consists of insects like ants, termites, and worms in wildlife. They have a strong sense of smell to search for prey and can smell deep inside the soil. It can search for its food by dragging its nose against burrows scratching with claws. They use their super sense of smell to search for their food and furiously dig up burrows and push the head and nose into it when they sense any prey. They catch food with their long sticky tongue and use their sharp and strong claws and toes to search for their prey. This animal is found in Smithsonian’s National Zoo where its diet includes dead insects soaked in water and worms.

Are they dangerous?

These animals belonging to South America are not that aggressive. They will only bite when faced with danger. However, they are capable of spreading ailments like rabies and leprosy. Otherwise, they roll into a ball when attacked.

Would they make a good pet?

Armadillos are not that easy to keep as pets as they need open spaces and mud to dig into the ground to search for food. However, southern armadillos are quite ideal to be kept as pets. This species of armadillo is easy to maintain, but it is better to keep them in wildlife as they are insectivores.

Did you know...

This species of armadillos are nocturnal.

These animals are the only species of armadillos that can roll like a ball and slide inside their armor and hide inside burrows.

Fuleco, the 2014 FIFA mascot, was inspired by  this animal.

In keeping with the other members of their family, namely the Andean hairy armadillo and pink fairy armadillo, these docile animals are some of the most beautiful creatures you are bound to come across.

What is the three-banded armadillo's defense mechanism?

A southern armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus) uses its carapace or armor and long sticky tongue as a defense mechanism. The armored shell is not completely attached to the body but is left loose at the tail and the limbs, allowing armadillos to roll into a ball and slide inside the shell. The armor and claws of the armadillo are made up of keratin. The predators cannot easily break the shell or harm the armadillo by biting them. Armadillos often keep their armor slightly open to gnaw down a predator whenever it attempts to reach its underbelly. The armor of the Tolypeutes maracas is made up of plates and is quite sturdy in protecting this armadillo species from thorns and scrubs as they roll into a ball.

What are the three-banded armadillo's predators?

The armadillo species is prone to the attack of predators like adult jaguars and pumas posing a serious threat to the population of southern armadillos. Young armadillos are often preyed down by bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. Other predators include humans and domestic dogs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including mountain zebra facts and Cuban solenodon facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable mammals coloring pages.



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