One of the most distinctive parts of the armadillo's appearance is that it does look like a small dog or a large rodent that has been covered in heavy armor for protection. Although it is easy to laugh at the armadillo's carapace, it is actually one of the main reasons for the success of the species, and why it has spread so far across much of Central and North America. The armadillo is a species that may be prehistoric in its origins, but when it comes to thriving in the modern environment, it is certainly one of the more successful animals in the Americas.
The Natural Armor Found In The Armadillo's Carapace
Although it looks like the armadillo's armor is made of large plates, it is actually a layer of tough thick scales over the larger scutes that provide the protection, with each of these plates connected and held in place by thick skin. In the majority of cases, a predator's teeth will not be able to breach these scales, which cover the back, sides, head, tail and the outer legs of the armadillo, to provide a very strong defensive layer.
Weak Points In The Armadillo's Defense
Although the armadillo is generally a very well protected animal, there are a few weak points that aren't protected by the armor plates, and where these scutes are connected by skin can sometimes be lacerated if the animal is caught unawares. It is also worth noting that the underbelly of the armadillo, along with the inside of the leg is also covered in a thick skin rather than the scaly shell that covers the outside of the armadillo.
The Strength Of The Armor Plating
One of the main aspects of the carapace is its strength, as it has to be able to deflect the majority of bites and attempts to claw it open from predators. However, there are also examples of karma coming around, as can be seen in the case of the Texas man in 2015 who tried to shoot an armadillo with a .38 revolver, only to have the bullet deflect off the shell and hit him in the jaw.
The Role Of The Armadillo's Armor
The primary role of the armor is to protect the animal from predators, and those that aren't deterred by the carapace will find that the armadillo hunkers down and quickly digs a shallow trench, hiding its entire body under the armor. When this is attacked, there are very few animals that can break the shield, and the low center of gravity means it is almost impossible to flip over, which is why it provides such great protection.
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