The nine-banded armadillo may have 7 to 10 bands
Armadillos, armored with bony plates, look very different from their relatives, the anteaters and sloths. Few animal orders have such unlikely looking related members as the edentates.
The armadillos are the only edentates that have migrated as far north as the southern USA. Of about 20 species, two are seen in Costa Rica. The best known is the nine-banded armadillo (cusuco; Dasypus novemcintus), which lives in the USA, Central and South America. Despite the name, there can be seven to ten plates (bands). They are 65cm to 1m in length, of which about one third is the tail and weight is 3 to 7kg. Babies are identical quadruplets arising from a single egg.
Mainly nocturnal, they are noisy foragers, blindly crashing around well-drained rainforest slopes. Their eyesight is poor and they have been known to walk into stationary observers! They have few vocalizations, but their snuffing and crashing are sometimes heard in the forest at night. With their primitive teeth, they are limited to a diet of mainly insects, and occasionally fruit, fungi, carrion, and other material. Their burrows dug into the ground are often seen in rainforest hikes.
Pictures by Angela and Jörn Malek. The team of Discovery Travel World wishes you the best of times in our little paradise called Costa Rica.
Text by Lonely Planet.