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One of the most interesting parts of the biology of the armadillo is that it is so different to that of other animals of the same size, and shows that it is a species that evolved back in the time when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Unlike other animals that create several different babies, female armadillos always give birth to four identical babies that are clones of each other, having all originated as one embryo. However, with a fairly long life span, this is one reason why the armadillo population has been booming over recent decades.
The Mating Habits Of The Armadillo
Armadillos are generally solitary creatures throughout much of the year, and they maintain a series of burrows within their territory, which is clearly marked with a scent to drive other armadillos away. The mating season is relatively late in the year, usually between July and August, but this is largely because the female has the ability to delay fertilization until an appropriate time later on in the year. The mating season is really the only time when the males and females come together, and they may even share a nest during this period, but this will finish after the mating season is over.
The Birth Cycle
Although the mating itself will happen in late summer, the female will commonly hold the pregnancy from beginning until November or December, with a four to five month gestation period before a litter of four identical baby armadillos is born in the spring. Following the birth, the babies will survive purely on their mother's milk for the first three months, before being weaned and starting to learn to forage. The life span of the armadillo is usually between twelve and fifteen years, and for the females they can often give birth to over fifty young armadillos during their lifetime.
How An Armadillo Raises Their Babies
The female armadillo has four teats which can deliver the milk to the babies, and while they grow gradually, once they start to be weaned the mother will start to teach her young some of the foraging techniques that will be very useful once they have to fend for themselves. From digging holes and sensing insects under the ground's surface through to harvesting wasps from a nest safely, the female will teach her young as much as possible before they go their own way after around six to twelve months.
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