How did armadillos get into North America?

An armadillo is a New World placental mammal, and it is in the same order as Cingulata and has a leathery armor shell. Armadillo is a Spanish word that means the little armored one. It is found in nine extant genera with 21 extant species.

Armadillos are now moving towards the north, and this was not expected by biologists before. This migration is believed to be related to climate changes. The migration of armadillos is based on opportunity. They arrived in the state of Texas in the 1880s and then in Florida in the 1920s.

The expansion of armadillos is limited by rainfall and temperature. Armadillos have little fat on their bodies and they are not able to conserve heat that easily. Long periods of too much cold weather can turn dangerous for them, and this is especially so for young armadillos. They are not able to establish a home in the places where the temperature is under -20C. They also need a place with enough water.

Like other Xenarthra lineages, armadillos are from South America where they originated. Because of the former isolation of the continent, armadillos lived there for the longest period. With the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, some armadillos decided to migrate towards the north and they reached southern North America during the period of the Great America Interchange.

By now, there are many extant armadillo species that are still found in South America. They are found mostly in Paraguay where up to 11 species still live and in its surrounding places. There are many species that are now endangered. The four species known as Dasypus are distributed widely in America, while others like Yepes’s mulita are found in small ranges. Nine banded armadillos and northern naked tailed armadillos live in Central America, but now they are reaching the United States, mostly the south central state of Texas, and there are others that extend to reach Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska and Central Indiana. The range has now extended to reach North America in the last century because there are no natural predators there.

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