Falling in Love With the Nine-Banded Armadillo

NWF   |   March 22, 2012

Margaret Redman is a Graduate Fellow conducting research on Schoolyard Habitats and outdoor classrooms for the Education Department of National Wildlife Federation. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Environmental Science and Policy at George Mason University.

When I was asked to help work on this year’s list of EXTRA-Ordinary wildlife species, the very first animal I wrote down was my favorite: the nine-banded armadillo. I’ll tell you why this adorable mammal fits the theme for National Wildlife Week 2012, but first, let’s back up to the beginning of the story.

How did I fall so deeply in love with an animal that many people consider a nuisance? Probably not how you would expect—I didn’t stumble upon one in the wild, and I’ve never encountered one at the zoo. It all started in calculus class, freshman year of college…

Nine-banded Armadillo, via Wiki Commons
My friend Alice and I probably weren’t the best of students when it came to paying attention in math lecture at 9:00 PM. We were a bit distracted. Neither of us are particularly good artists, but we started a doodling war that spanned many weeks of class. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but one of us must have suggested we draw animals, because soon enough, my notebook was covered in cartoon drawings of armadillos.

Now, it could have ended there, but after you draw a few dozen armadillos, you start to wonder a bit about these small, strange-looking critters. Which, of course, is where Google came in. Do you know how many fun facts are out there about armadillos? Quite a few! Such as:

  • Though covered with armor they are capable swimmers!
  • They almost always give birth to identical quadruplets
  • They have a horrible reputation for spreading leprosy, despite the fact that more people in the U.S. are struck by lightning each year than infected with leprosy.

And those are just to name a few! After you spend so much time coloring, researching, and talking about armadillos, that’s it—they replace panda bears as your favorite animal. Since then, I’ve adopted an armadillo into my family—symbolically—and have made it my mission to spread the word about how remarkable all armadillo species really are.

If you want to read more about the nine-banded armadillo visit the Wildlife Library. You’ll be amazed by what you find out! And  P.S., I passed calculus.

Learn more about how you can celebrate EXTRA-ordinary species during this year’s National Wildlife Week, March 19-25.

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Published: March 22, 2012