Armadillos. We've all heard of them. Famous for their naps in dirt on Texas roadsides. We've all heard that if we touch one, we'll catch the leprosy. While that may, technically, be true, let's go over some other must-knows when it comes to this little roly-poly pal.

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Photo by Dawn Peek on Unsplash
Photo by Dawn Peek on Unsplash

First, some myths to bust about... whatever it is armadillos are.

Myth 1: Armadillos curl up in a ball for defense

While the cartoons love to show this, only a select few species can perform this feat. To make it even better, the nine-banded armadillo, the only one found in the U.S. (hence the title of Texas State Small Mammal), cannot fully curl up in a ball... sad.

Myth 2: Armadillos are rodents

As much as I like to think of them as big rats in armor ready for war, armadillos are actually closer related to sloths and anteaters rather than opossums and rats.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash
Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Myth 3: The big one... Armadillos will give your leprosy if you touch them

Alright alright, yes, there is a chance of contracting leprosy from armadillos and it's highly advised to not handle them unless properly trained, but the chances are very low.

In fact, the chances of an armadillo carrying leprosy, or Hansen's Disease, peak at about 1 in 20.

It's also important to know that, annually, America sees about 150 leprosy cases each year.

Now that we got those out of the way, let's dig in to what makes these little Texas icons more interesting.

First, armadillos always give birth to four offspring per litter since they are all developed in the same egg. Also, four offspring of the same sex. Imagine if humans always gave birth to quadruplets that were all boys or all girls.

Plus, these mysterious mammals dig up grubs and berries that can, unfortunately, lead to lawn damage for homeowners.

So, the next time you get that urge to touch an armadillo (okay, weirdo), make sure you remember these things before imagining your lives together from that day on.

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