The team at Edinburgh Zoo has had no shortage of entertainment since an armoured arrival joined their menagerie recently. She might still look small now, but just three weeks ago, this southern three-banded armadillo was only the size of a golf ball! 


Named after the ancient Inca sun god, Inti (pronounced "In-tee") is only the second armadillo to be born at the facility. 

"Our new arrival is doing well and we are all celebrating her birth," staff member Sarah Wright said in a statement. "She is growing quickly and is a little bundle of energy. She will grow up to play a very important role in raising awareness about the plight of armadillos in the wild and the threats they face."

Listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN, southern three-banded armadillos (Tolypeutes matacus) are showing steady decline, largely due to the pet trade and habitat loss in their native South America.

Though most of us picture these plated animals as roly-poly oddities, it's a common misconception that all armadillos ball up when threatened. The nine-banded armadillo found in the eastern US, for example, cannot roll itself up to escape predators. They do, however, make excellent sniffer dogs: 

And that's not all that sets Inti's species apart. Unlike some of their cousins, southern three-banded armadillos don't usually dig burrows; instead, they prefer squatting in the abandoned dens of other animals. 

Those powerful claws you see in the video are not designed for digging – the animals use them sort of like crowbars, perfect for prying the bark off trees in search of tasty grubs. When they're not munching insect larvae, the armadillos will also snack on fruit and termites. 

Image: Edinburgh Zoo
Image: Edinburgh Zoo
Image: Edinburgh Zoo
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Top header image: OnceAndFutureLaura, Flickr

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