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Armadillos

( Originally Published 1936 )

These are comparatively small animals, inhabitants of tropical or subtropical America, and characterised by the thick and bony armour covering the upper parts of the body. This armour is not in a solid piece, but is arranged in a series of bony plates, over-lapping at the edges, and between the plates coarse stiff hairs project in all directions. The under parts of the creature are soft and sparsely covered with hair. Armadillos are burrowing animals, and are furnished with enormously strong and heavily made claws which are of great service in making the huge excavations in which they live. Their bones also are very thick and powerful, as might be supposed of an animal whose life is spent in digging subterranean passages. In most species the snout is rather long and the whole animal is somewhat pig-like in character, trotting about and snuffing in much the same manner as a pig. They are nocturnal in habit, sleeping during the day and feeding chiefly on insects at night.

Pichiciago (Chlamydophorus truncatus)

The Pichiciago, smallest of the species, is a very curious little animal about five inches long, which is found in the Argentine Republic and Chili. The shield, or bony armour, covers the whole back, but is attached only along the middle, and has the appearance of being cut off sharply at the hinder part, giving the animal a cylindrical form at the end. The eyes and ears are small and concealed under the hair. The colour is greyish-pink, and the face and lower parts of the body, the legs (except the under surface, which is plated), and the sides, are clothed with long silky hair. There are five strong claws, which are chiefly used for digging, and the tail is very short. See Plate 20, Fig. 99. In habits it resembles other armadillos, living in holes during the day, but owing to its shyness it is seldom seen.

Tatouay (Lysiurus unicinctus)

The Tatouay is a larger species than the preceding measuring about eighteen inches in length, and is found in Brazil and other countries of South America. The shield which covers the upper part of the body is yellowish, the head, short legs, and rather long tail, being brown. The ears are long and pointed and placed well at the top of the head, the muzzle is extremely long and pig-like, and, as in all the members of this family, the feet are furnished with powerful claws. See Plate 20, Fig 97. Nearly all these animals have the ability, when alarmed, of rolling themselves into balls, the softer parts being thus protected from injury; and when walking, they stand well up on the tips of their claws.



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