Photo Ark: Southern Three-Banded Armadillo

Photo Ark: Southern Three-Banded Armadillo

It’s armored and can roll into a ball, but can it stand up to habitat destruction?


4 - 9


Photography, Biology, Geography

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The southern three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus) is indigenous to central South America, ranging between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. 

Like most armadillos, the southern three-banded is covered in plates of leathery armor that protect it from predators. But what makes this armadillo special is its ability to roll completely into a ball. The neighboring Brazilian three-banded armadillo is the only other armadillo with this adaptation. The adaptation works well in the wild—only jaguars, alligators, and pumas are powerful enough to punch through the protective plates.

Habitat loss is a challenge for many species, including the southern three-banded armadillo. During the 20th century, the rich Rio de la Plata river basin underwent agricultural development; the habitat changed from a flood plain to cultivated fields of crops such as soy and sorghum. Today, the southern three-banded armadillo is classified as a near threatened species.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Jordan Lim, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Chandana Jasti, National Geographic Society
Bob Connelly
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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