Armadillos do not like to hang out. They generally keep to their home range, avoiding each other and eating alone. The breeding season poses a particular set of challenges for the solitary creatures, namely, tolerating one another long enough to screw.
Photo: Jim Mullhaupt/Flickr
Colleen McDonough, a behavioural ecologist at the Valdosta State University in Georgia, spoke with Live Science about the little-known mating behaviours of nine-banded armadillo, which can smell a fellow loner from very far away:
Pairing behaviour is a kind of courtship ritual in which the male tries to remain in close proximity to the female (within a few meters) at all times. If the female is unreceptive, however, she'll do all she can to get away, including kicking at him with her hind legs, according to McDonough. But females are generally much more tolerant of males during the breeding season.
Aside from crowding the female's personal space, the male armadillo courts her by pawing at her carapace and sniffing her genitalia. If she's into it, the two start making "chucking" noises at each other and she'll lift and wag her tail. If another male wallows into the situation, the male armadillo rushes to chase off or fight him.
There are over 20 species of armadillo, but only the nine-banded armadillos are found in the United States. Unlike the three-banded armadillos which can curl themselves up completely into crusty impenetrable balls, nine-banded armadillos can't. But they can inflate their own intestines and float away on water. They're also very good at holding their breath and digging holes in the dirt where they can burrow into when all this is over and everything is back to normal.