The name "armadillo" translates as "little-armored one," which refers to this creature's armor of protective plates. Armadillos are between 5 and 59 inches long, and weigh between 3 ounces and 120 pounds. They live in the southern United States, Mexico, Central America and throughout most of South America.
There are 20 species of armadillos, but only one species, the nine-banded armadillo, inhabits the United States. All other species come from Latin America. Close relatives include the sloth and anteater.
The "armor" of an armadillo is made up of bone, and it aids in protecting the creature against predators, Only the three-banded armadillo can roll itself into an enclosed ball, whereas other species depend on holes and running on foot to escape would-be enemies.
A staple of the armadillo's menu is insects, which the mammal can reach by means of digging with its long claws. The hair on the creature's underside acts as feelers, enabling the armadillo to find its way in the dark.
In some regions the armadillo is a food item for human consumption. Those who were less than impressed with President Herbert Hoover's role during the Great Depression referred to the armadillo on their plates as "Hoover hogs" and "poor man's pork."