The Nine-banded Armadillo is native to Mexico, Central, and South America but has expanded its range north into the southern United States. They first appeared in Texas in the mid 1800s and were also introduced into Florida by about 1900. Now Armadillos are being seen more frequently in Illinois as they slowly push northward. People most often find them along roadsides after being hit by cars. For protection, the Armadillo’s carapace (shell) is covered with a series of bony plates, including eight to eleven (most commonly eight to nine) flexible bands, which allow armadillos to curl up in a ball when they feel threatened. Another bony shield protects the head.
Armadillos may migrate into central and northern Illinois, but they cannot withstand freezing temperatures for long because they have little hair to keep their bodies warm, and they depend mostly on insects for food. They do not hibernate.