The dilapidated house was being torn down to make room for new construction. If anyone had thought about what might be living under the house, they would have assumed that the ruckus had scared everyone away. Deconstruction went just fine until the workmen began removing the sub-floor. Imagine the surprise when an armadillo bounced out of the opening and scurried away. The startled workmen looked into the hole to discover a shallow dirt nest containing four baby armadillos. The babies were so young the shriveled umbilical cord was still attached!
Phone calls were quickly made to WR&E – what to do? The normal advice would be to leave them in the nest to allow the mother time to relocate them – but considering the demolition, exposure to chill night temperatures and potential predators it was determined the best course of action would be to bring them to the Wildlife Center. When WR&E advises allowing the mother to retrieve her babies (or a baby bird is put back into a nest or substitute nest), we instruct the rescuer to watch for mother’s return and to not let the babies get cold to the touch. Obviously this couldn’t be done on a construction site.
Armadillos are wonderfully strange creatures. Life began for these four last June or July when the female ovulated a single egg. About this same time, the normally solitary armadillos search for a mate and the single egg is fertilized. Mom and dad go their separate ways. Implantation of the embryo doesn’t usually occur until November! When it does it immediately divides twice forming four identical babies that share the same embryonic sac and placenta. The babies are usually born in March or April. The literature says that armadillo babies are born with their eyes open, but the eyes of the ones that came to the Wildlife Center were only partially open.
All four are eating well. The aquarium that they are in has been screened with paper to simulate the dimness of a den. Three of the four seem content with this arrangement. They are happy to sleep and eat. The fourth is a little troublemaker – it always seems to be exploring – so much for identical temperament among the identical quadruplets.
Reproduction isn’t the only marvelously unusual armadillo trait. A full blown species article that explains how armadillo cross bodies of water, why they are important research animals, what human disease they provided a vaccine for, how the “armor” grows with the animal and how they catch their food can be found on our website’s blog under the category “Armadillo”. Or you could just follow this link – click here
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