Armadillos (meaning "little armoured one" in Spanish) are New World placental mammals in the order Cingulata. The Chlamyphoridae and Dasypodidae are the only surviving families in the order, which is part of the superorder Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths.
Despite their heavily armoured and lumbering appearance, armadillos can reach a top speed of 30 miles per hour. In fact, most species of the armadillo group, including the common nine-banded armadillo, rely upon running rather than rolling up into a ball to protect themselves from predators.
A frightened armadillo will typically flee into the nearby burrow as their primary defence against predators, hence their need for such a high sprinting speed. Their distinct shells are actually a secondary defence for when running away to a hiding spot is not possible. The only armadillo which utilizes its shell as a primary defence is a three-banded armadillo. Rather than fleeing, it will curl up so tightly that its body is entirely enclosed by its shell.
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