Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Armadillo is Strangest of All Sanibel's "Residents"

Admitting I am smitten by all things great and small on Sanibel Island, I must also concede that not every creature is created equal.

That is not to say that a mama Armadillo does not find her babies gorgeous.

Or that Jane Armadillo does not find John Armadillo enchanting.

But from my point of view, a human one, I am not sure what to make of this hard shelled digger and burrow dweller.

He looks like a rodent-snake with his pointed snout, but this little guy is a mammal.

Armadillos have short legs but can move quite quickly, and have the ability to remain underwater for as long as six minutes.

Because of the density of its armor, an Armadillo will sink in water unless it inflates its stomach and intestines with air, which often doubles its size and allows it to swim across narrow bodies of water. There's no doubt about it, he sure makes an odd duck in the water.

Armadillos have poor vision. The armor is formed by plates of dermal bone covered in relatively small, overlapping epidermal scales called scutes, composed of bone with a covering of horn. In most species, there are rigid shields over the shoulders and hips, with a number of bands separated by flexible skin covering the back and flanks. Additional armor covers the top of the head, the upper parts of the limbs, and the tail. The underside of the animal is never armored, and is simply covered with soft skin and fur.

Gestation for Armadillos lasts anywhere from 60 to 120 days, depending on species, although the nine-banded Armadillo (the only species found in the USA) also exhibits delayed implantation so that the young are not typically born for eight months after mating.

With all these peculiarities, the Armadillo makes for an unusual topic of study and one I would think children would find particularly interesting. If you know a child with an interest in wildlife, you might want to consider purchasing a little book called Dillo, written by a Sanibel resident. A fanciful story about a baby Armadillo, each page is artfully illustrated in water color depicting real life animals and environment.

Real life or works of fiction, Armadillos are among the many aspects of Sanibel's abundant nature worth taking a look at by "children" of all ages!


Kyle Miller said...

What a fabulous picture of an armadillo. How can you not love this little harmless creature? But, many have said that armadillos ruin their yards digging up grubs and such. I say they are just aerating the lawn. Thanks for your thoughtful comments about one of our 'strange residents'.

Samba said...

Thank you, not only for your attention and kind comments, but for serving as a reminder. Inadvertently, I left out a link to the original site of the photo. The person who took it deserves the credit for the great "portrait" and I have now created a link to make sure that happens. (I personally think these little creatures are adorable!)

Anonymous said...

Though they are adorable, they are indeed very destructive. They break sprinklers and wiring underground, dug massive burrows under your home or ac unit, and as in my home they snap the pool overflow plumbing. The PVC pipe dumped water into their burrow for days before realizing it. The damage was a 3,000$ water bill and a 900$ repair bill. If the house settles and crack the founfation over the hole, you're talking tens of thousands in damage. While cute, they are very expensive to keep around. They are an invasive species here in Sanibel.

Samba said...

Wow, who would have thought that such a cute little critter could cause that much damage. But when you get right down to it, the Armadillo lived here on the Island before we humans did, so in all honesty, we have "ruined" THEIR habitat. But the good thing about Sanibel is that we value our non human residents and tolerate bad behavior in the name of animal preservation.