Southern three-banded armadillo in exhibit

Southern Three-banded Armadillo

Scientific Name
Tolypeutes matacus
Geographic Range
Central South America
Ants and termites
Southern three-banded armadillo in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Near Threatened Endangered Status Graph - Near Threatened

More Information

Southern three-banded armadillos have a hard carapace that covers their body. It is made up of strong, bony plates called scutes, which grow from their skin and cannot be removed. As their native range includes thorny vegetation, this protection is important. The carapace is not connected to their skin on two sides, so they can tuck their limbs and head inside. Their undersides have soft, hairy skin. Three-banded armadillos are about 12 inches long with short tails, and they weigh about 3 pounds.

These mammals use their sense of smell to communicate with other armadillos, including their willingness to mate. Breeding takes place between October and January. Females give birth to one infant after four months of gestation; it is the size of a golf ball when it is born and looks like an adult. It becomes independent after 72 days.

Did You Know?

  • Southern three-banded armadillos were named for the three distinct hinges across their midsection that allow them to curl into a ball when threatened. They can fully close their durable shell into an armored ball and even trap a predator’s limb inside.
  • Unlike most armadillos, these armadillos are not good diggers. They use abandoned anteater burrows instead of creating their own.
  • They use long, sharp claws to break into termite mounds and break open tree bark.


Species Survival Plan logo

Species Survival Plan®

We cooperate with other members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to manage the zoo population of this species through a Species Survival Plan®.

Learn More

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care.

Learn More

Support Your Zoo

Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

Animals Depend On People Too

When you ADOPT an animal, you support world-class animal care by helping to provide specially formulated diets, new habitat elements, and regular veterinary checkups.

Adopt an Animal

Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.

Browse the Wish List

African penguin eating a fish

Take Action With Us

Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

Take Action

Empty Playlist