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Distribution And Habitat

Armadillos are found through the whole of South and Central America, from the Strait of Magellan northward to eastern Mexico.

The common long-nosed (or nine-banded) armadillo is the most widespread and is the only species found in the United States. In the 1850s several armadillos were recorded in Texas, and their descendants spread rapidly through the Gulf States toward the Atlantic in what has become the swiftest mammalian distribution ever witnessed. In 1922 a captive pair of common long-nosed armadillos escaped in Florida, and in a few decades their descendants numbered in the tens of thousands. Moving westward, the eastern population met with the Texas group only within the last decade.

Rivers and streams present no barrier to the spread of armadillos. Gulping air into their stomachs and intestines to buoy themselves, armadillos float leisurely across the water. Others have been observed walking into streams on one side and strolling out on the other side a few minutes later.

While water presents no barrier to armadillos, cold does, and winter temperatures have slowed their northern advance in the United States. Armadillos are poorly insulated and cannot withstand chilling. Cold also reduces the abundance of insects that armadillos depend on for food. Because of this, armadillos have moved northward only as far as Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

Armadillos are found in habitats ranging from pampas (grasslands) to arid deserts and from coastal prairies to rainforests and deciduous forests.

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