Southern three-banded armadillos are the only species of armadillos that can roll into a complete ball to defend themselves. They have three bands that cover the back of the animal, its tail and head together. This allows it to protect its underbelly, limbs, eyes, nose and ears from predators. The shell covering its body is armored and the outer layer is made out of keratin. Southern three-banded armadillos have three middle toes on the back feet. They are grown together and have a thick claw. The forefeet toes are seperated and have 4 claws. These armadillos are typically a yellow or brownish color.
Southern three-banded armadillos occur in South America. They are found in parts of northern Argentina, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. These animals inhabit grasslands or marshes near dry forests or savannah areas.
Southern three-banded armadillos are generally solitary creatures. Although they do occasionally group together during cold weather. Unlike most armadillos, they are not fossorial, they do not dig their own burrows. These animals like to use abandoned anteater burrows, or they make their dens under dense vegetation. When foraging these Southern armadillos use their strong legs and large claws. They dig through insect colonies or under bark to get to their food. They have a long, sticky, straw-like pink tongue that helps them then to gather up and eat those insects. When threatened Southern three-banded armadillos roll into a ball. This way they protect themselves.
Little is known about the mating system and reproductive behavior of Southern three-banded armadillos. It is known that most of the young are born from November-January but births occur throughout the year. Females give birth to a single pup. Young are born blind but quickly develop and learn to close their shells and walk. They become completley independent after 72 days. Southern three-banded armadillos become reproductively mature at 9-12 months of age.
Main threats to Southern three-banded armadillos are habitat destruction from the conversion of its native Dry Chaco (natural region divided among eastern Bolivia, western Paraguay, northern Argentina and a portion of the Brazilian states) to farmland, hunting for food and the pet trade.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Southern three-banded armadillo total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatend (NT) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.