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How Do I Care for a Pet Armadillo?

H. Lo
H. Lo

The armadillo usually does well when kept in captivity, but to give the animal the best care it can receive outside of its natural habitat, you should learn as much about it as possible. Before you get a pet armadillo, you will need to find out whether it is legal to own one in your area. In general, your pet will need a proper diet and room to forage. Also, you will need to provide water, shelter and space for your pet.

If your pet armadillo is still a baby, you will need to feed it kitten formula through an eyedropper. It is important not to over-feed a baby armadillo, as this can lead to health problems and might even cause death. An adult armadillo, on the other hand, can maintain a healthy diet by eating moist cat food. Also, in addition to its usual food, an armadillo should have a varied diet, since it naturally has one in the wild. Other foods that you can feed to your adult armadillo include fruit, grubs and worms.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Your pet armadillo will need to be able to dig and forage as it does in its natural habitat. To enable your pet to do this, you can keep it outside in an enclosed area such as in a yard that is fenced. When the armadillo is in its enclosure though, you should monitor its activities, as it can dig its way out of the area with its large claws. If you are raising a baby armadillo, you will need to teach it how to forage by burying food, like grubs, in dirt and then letting the armadillo discover the food. Although armadillos might have poor eyesight, their sense of smell allows them to successfully forage so teaching a baby armadillo how to do this should go well.

Other considerations for taking care of a pet armadillo include providing access to water, shelter and space. The armadillo keeps cool and gains exercise from swimming in water, so it is important to have water nearby, like a pond or wading pool. When the weather is cold, the armadillo will need a warm place to stay as it normally lives in warm habitats and does not fare well in the cold. So, if the armadillo is usually kept outside, you should bring it inside during cold weather. A pet armadillo will need its space, as an overcrowded home can cause it to fight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of habitat is suitable for a pet armadillo?

To ensure the well-being of a pet armadillo, it's essential to replicate their natural environment. This includes a spacious enclosure with a mix of soil and sand for digging, as armadillos are burrowing animals. The habitat should be warm, with temperatures ideally between 75-85°F, as they are sensitive to cold. Providing hiding places and ensuring a high humidity level will also help mimic their natural habitat.

What does a balanced diet for an armadillo consist of?

Armadillos are primarily insectivores, so their diet should be rich in protein. A balanced diet includes mealworms, earthworms, and soft-bodied larvae. Supplementing with fruits and vegetables can provide additional nutrients. According to the San Diego Zoo, armadillos may also eat small amounts of lean meat, but it's important to avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity.

How much exercise does an armadillo need?

Armadillos are active creatures that require ample space to roam and dig. Exercise is crucial for their physical and mental health. Providing a large, secure outdoor area where they can forage and explore is ideal. If outdoor space is limited, ensure their indoor enclosure allows for digging and movement to simulate natural behaviors.

Are armadillos social animals that require companionship?

Armadillos are generally solitary animals and do not necessarily require companionship from other armadillos. However, they can benefit from regular interaction with their human caretakers. It's important to handle them gently and frequently to foster trust. If considering a companion for your armadillo, consult with a veterinarian or an armadillo expert to ensure compatibility and proper introduction techniques.

What are the common health issues in armadillos, and how can I prevent them?

Common health issues in armadillos include obesity, metabolic bone disease, and respiratory infections. To prevent these, provide a balanced diet, ensure adequate UVB lighting for vitamin D synthesis, and maintain proper temperature and humidity levels in their enclosure. Regular veterinary check-ups are also vital for early detection and treatment of potential health problems.

Is it legal to own an armadillo as a pet?

The legality of owning an armadillo varies by location. In some places, armadillos are protected wildlife, and it is illegal to keep them as pets without special permits. Before considering an armadillo as a pet, check with local wildlife authorities and obtain any necessary permits. It's also important to consider the ethical implications of keeping a wild animal as a pet.

Discussion Comments


Keeping exotic animals as pets seems somewhat fashionable--particularly among some celebrities--but how ethical is it? Understandably, some animals end up in zoos or animal sanctuaries for various reasons such as endangerment or being orphaned. However, I don't think keeping wild animals, such as armadillos, as pets and feeding them kitten formula and cat food is very kind or ethical.

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