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Do Armadillos Make Great Pets? What You Need to Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

The armadillo is a unique animal with the ability to live on land and in water. It has evolved over time into an incredible creature that can survive even extreme weather to its natural armor of bony plates called ‘scutes’. In fact, this armor helps it get around during harsh times, making it one of the most resilient mammals in America.

Unfortunately, armadillos are not usually considered great pets.

They have several quirks and habits that make them undesirable for the average pet owner, such as digging holes all over your yard, getting into garbage, and eating everything they can find.

However, there is more to these little animals than meets the eye! In this post, we will explore the armadillo’s natural habitat and behavior to help you decide if an armadillo would be a good pet choice for you or not.

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What is an Armadillo?

Armadillos are part of the order “Cingulata” and the family Dasypodidae. They are closely related to anteaters, sloths, and other mammals that eat insects or plants, but armadillos spend most of their time on land rather than in trees, as many other Cingulate animals do.

Armadillo’s come in various shapes and sizes, but the most common ones generally reach a weight of 16 pounds and measure about 12-24 inches from head to tail. This makes them very easy animals to handle or transport if necessary for whatever reason, especially when they’re curled up in a ball!

They have a hard shell made from the aforementioned scutes that cover their bodies and give them a unique look. This “armored” skin protects them from insect bites or stings, as well as other attacks!

These one-of-a-kind animals are found in North America, South America, and some parts of Africa. They thrive in warmer climates and are most commonly found in semi-arid or desert regions.

armadillo on grass
Image Credit: PublicDomainImages, Pixabay

Temperament

Armadillos are primarily solitary creatures but will sometimes live in small groups. They prefer to be on the ground and not climb trees as sloths do.

When around humans, the armadillo is very calm and relaxed. They don’t need a lot of space or company, but they do enjoy stroking along the ground with their claws as well as being petted!

Don’t be fooled by its tough exterior, armadillos can actually be quite affectionate

Lifespan

In the wild, armadillos have an average lifespan of around 12 years. In captivity, this can be increased to 20-30 years!

Health Conditions

One downside to armadillo pets is that these animals are susceptible to parasites and pests, and certain diseases such as leprosy and malaria!

Obtaining veterinarian care for such an animal could be difficult, so any prospective owner needs to do their research before committing fully.

Feeding a Pet Armadillo

Armadillos are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, they will eat a variety of things: insects, plants (especially fruit), birds’ eggs, snails, and slugs. They have even been known to go after other small animals such as lizards and mice.

When pet owners feed their armadillo a primarily plant-based diet, they are usually provided with fresh fruit and vegetables as well as pellets for added protein.

Some people will also add dog or cat food to the mix, helping the animals maintain an ideal weight.

armadillo eating
Image Credit: hradient, Pixabay

What Kind of Living Area Do They Need to Live Comfortably?

Armadillos are not domesticated, so it’s best to leave them in their natural habitat.

However, if you do want an armadillo as a pet and have the means for providing adequate space for him/her, then some requirements need to be met:

  • An enclosure needs at least four sides.
  • An armadillo needs to be able to dig.
  • The enclosure should provide a natural habitat for the animal, mimicking its environment in its native country.
  • An armadillo should be provided with a pool to swim in.
  • An armadillo needs at least 20 square feet of space for every one foot long it is.
  • The enclosure should provide adequate shelter from the weather and plenty of room to roam around freely, as well as enough food to sustain them during their stay there.

Armadillos are not domesticated animals and require space to explore, so they can’t stay caged up all day long. They need plenty of room and walking space to explore and live comfortably.

Can You Tame an Armadillo?

The armadillo is a wild animal and can be difficult to domesticate with some exceptions.

A baby armadillo is more likely to be domesticated because it doesn’t have the same aggressive tendencies as an adult, and it will show by its more docile behavior.

You will not be able to teach your armadillo tricks or train it to perform tricks for you.

You will be able to hold your armadillo and pet them, but they are not toys, do not treat them as such.

armadillo
Image Credit: KMcCall, Pixabay

Are They Easy to Care For?

The armadillo’s basic needs are not the most difficult to care for if you are an experienced pet owner. It is not a hands-off process, however. They can be fed cat or dog food if they don’t eat bugs in the wild, which is what their diet consists mainly of when free-roaming.

You will not need to do any training because it wouldn’t work anyway, so once you provide it with an adequate living environment, the rest will come easier.

You might also want a second opinion about whether this is really what you want from a “pet.” It should not be seen as a low-maintenance pet that will never need anything other than food and water. They are wild creatures that require the corresponding care and attention – not all people find this rewarding enough to pursue long-term at home.

Many people are drawn to an armadillo because it looks so unusual, but consider all the things you would have to provide for your new friend before getting too attached!

Remember: No matter what kind of animal you get, they require a lot of care to thrive. Armadillos are no exception!

Do They Get Along with Kids and Other Pets?

We do not recommend an armadillo as a pet for children. A child’s actions may cause the armadillo to feel threatened and lash out, which can lead to serious injury or death of both parties involved.

An adult would have more success handling an armadillo with care when it comes to interacting with other pets in their home. If you are planning on getting another animal after your new pet, make sure they will be able to coexist peacefully before adding them into your family’s life together!

The Costs of Owning an Armadillo

Since they are not traditionally regarded as pets, you’re going to have a tough time finding a pet store that sells armadillos. Getting an armadillo will require you to buy a hatchling from another breeder or find one in the wild.

The cost of caring for your new pet is also going to be expensive. You’ll need to have a habitat, and if you want your animal to stay healthy, they’ll need food that’s proper for them as well!

The good news is that these animals are easy on their feet, so it won’t take much work when it comes time to clean up after them.

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Final Thoughts

Are armadillos great pets? They’re not the cuddly type of pet, but they do make a good choice for people who are looking for an interesting and unusual animal! Armadillos can live in your backyard or inside on a leash. They don’t need much space because their homes are underground.

Armadillos have a keen sense of smell, so they’re also good at detecting possible danger in the area.

If you’re interested in adopting an armadillo as a pet, contact your nearest zoo or wildlife rehabilitation center for more information!


Featured Image Credit: Cheryl Holt, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.