Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Southern Three-banded Armadillo

Tolypeutes matacus

Armadillos are in a group of animals called Xenarthra, along with sloths and anteaters.

Home Range

Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina


Open grassy areas, open forests, marshes


Armadillos dig into insect colonies and bark with their strong front claws to feed on ants and termites.


One young, born about the size of a golf ball.

Social Structure

Usually solitary

Fun Facts

  • This is the only armadillo species that can roll itself into a nearly perfect sphere when frightened. Its ears tuck in, and its tail and head fit together so that predators cannot reach its vulnerable underside.

  • Armadillo headplates are unique to each armadillo, like human fingerprints.

  • Armadillos are in the order Cingulata.