Three-banded armadillo walking across a grass field

Three-Banded armadillo

Mammal with a shell


giant panda



South America

South America

Endangered Status



8 to 10.75
inches in length
A soccer ball is 9 inches high.
three-banded armadillo compared in size to a soccer ball
ants, termites, bee larvae
dry grassland
and forest
grassland habitat


Three-banded armadillo walking on dirt

Shell game

Three-banded armadillos can be found in eastern Bolivia, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. Armadillos are the only mammals covered by a shell. But it’s different from a seashell or a tortoise shell. An armadillo’s shell is made up of bony plates covered by thick, hard skin.

A three-banded armadillo rolled up into a ball for defense

Awesome armor

The “armor” isn’t the only protection this armadillo has from predators. When a frightened three-banded armadillo curls up into a ball, it often leaves a space open. If a predator puts a paw or nose into that space to try to pry the armadillo open, the little animal slams its shell shut—ouch!

Three-banded armadillo curled up into a ball with its claws visible

Dig those claws!

A three-banded armadillo uses its long, sharp front claws to dig into termite mounds to feast on the insects inside. It also uses them to break open tree bark to snack on beetle larvae hiding inside. Those claws are terrific tools!


unique features

Mom and baby armadillo
Three-banded armadillo sniffing through dirt

Sweet 16

Three-banded armadillos can live for 16 years.

Baby armadillo rolled into ball

Roll with it

The three-banded armadillo is the only species that can roll up into a ball for protection.

Armadillo sniffing a little snack

Do you smell that?

A sensitive nose helps armadillos sniff out tasty treats.