Friday, March 23, 2012

Nine-banded Armadillo

Last year I took this Nine-banded Armadillo photo in northern Florida. It is somewhat unusual to encounter armadillos in the daytime. Armadillo populations in the south are moving north and east, so more folks will come to know these fascinating creatures. Armadillos are prone to automobile encounters, and highways in the south are often littered with armadillo carcasses in the morning. Our genus of Armadillo, on the other hand, has a high reproductive rate. Indeed, this genus includes the only mammals that always give birth to identical quadruplets!

Armadillos are also one of the few animals that succumb to leprosy. One reason for this susceptibility is that they have body temperatures similar to humans. Much of our knowledge of leprosy comes from armadillo studies. People can get leprosy from handling or eating armadillo meat. Curiously, leprosy was unknown in the New World prior to European exploration. Thus scientists assume that armadillos first acquired the disease from humans (Wikipedia).

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