U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in NHS.


Scientists classify armadillos with anteaters and sloths. This tells us that they have poorly developed teeth and limited mobility. In fact, armadillos have small, peg-like teeth that are useful for grinding their food but of little value for capturing prey. No other mammal in Georgia has bony skin plates or a “shell”, which makes the armadillo easy to identify. Just like a turtle, the shell is called a carapace. Armadillos are common in central and southern Georgia and are moving northward. Only one species of armadillo lives in Georgia and the southeastern U.S. However, 20 recognized species are found throughout Central and South America. These include the giant armadillo, which can weigh up to 130 pounds and the pink fairy armadillo which weighs less than 4 ounces. About two million years ago a relative of the armadillo as large as a rhinoceros lived in South America and small cousins lived as far north as Canada. These disappeared in the Ice Ages long before humans inhabited North America.