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This video is about nine banded armadillos...they are very good and, yes, lots of them are infected with leprosy, but that is not their fault. Thank you for coming down memory lane with me and discovering cool things about turtle rabbits.

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Good morning, John.  After college, I got a job working all by myself in a fungicide quality control laboratory.  I know, it sounds super exciting.  It was actually pretty exciting, though, 'cause I was the only person there and so I managed the lab all by myself.  I ordered things, I designed SOPs, I did all the tests, I listened to lots of punk rock, but also it was awful because I would go to work and I would work all day and I would not see a single living thing that wasn't a mold.  It was extremely boring and lonely as evidenced by these pictures of me wearing produce bags on my head.  I had just gotten my first digital camera and I was out to make some content, but then, some days I did see other living things that weren't mold because it was Florida and I might see a black racer or a frog or get stung by a yellowjacket, and then one day, I saw outside of my window this little group of armadillos, looking real cute and I thought, I'll take my new digital camera and I'll take a bunch of pictures of them.

Now, we are aware these days that you can get diseases from animals and you can get leprosy from armadillos.  The official advice is do not handle them unnecessarily and I did not, but if I wore my headphones and listened to punk rock, they would come over and they would snuffle my head, I think because they thought maybe The Used or Seven Seconds was actually like a little bug crawling around as they do use their rabbit-like ears to listen for prey.

Good fact, actually, the Aztec word for armadillo translates to 'turtle rabbit'.  I did not get leprosy from these armadillos, but even if I had, it's fairly treatable now, so that's good.  Also, sometimes diseases cross from animals to humans and we hear a lot about that, but leprosy actually jumped from humans to armadillos, so this is not their fault.  I took so many pictures of these armadillos.  Oh my God.  I had dad shoes even back then.  

Armadillos are most closely related to anteaters and there have been and are lots of species of armadillos.  Pink fairy armadillos, three-banded, nine-banded, giant armadillos, and then of course, in the past, there were the (?~2:06), now extinct, probably because of guess who.  Us!  But this video is about the nine-banded armadillo, the only armadillo native to the US and this species also lives other places in North Central and South America, but the subspecies that lives in the US, interestingly, are all very genetically similar, suggesting that only a few made it this far north before establishing a population.

These armadillos also always have litters of identical quadruplets so that roll I was hanging out with, and yes, roll is the collective noun for armadillos, were probably brothers or sisters all genetically identical.  Other awesome things about armadillos.  They live in places where there's a lot of water, so they have two different ways of getting across water and they can choose which one they do.  They can either walk under the water, because their keratin plates make them so heavy that they sink or, or they can inflate their digestive systems and swim on top of the water, and they have lots of choices in their lives.  For example, mommy armadillos can decide after mating whether she wants to have those babies now or postpone it.  If she's stressed out, she can push it for up to two years before she starts developing the embryos.  

Also, when they're threatened, they jump really high up in the air, which is a cool strategy to scare away a predator.  It's not great at scaring away cars, which is why you might see lots of armadillos on the side of the road that have had bad outcomes, and that is sad, but the good news is that nine-banded armadillos are great at surviving in the human created landscape, even of an office park outside of Orlando, Florida.  They are abundant.  As a species, they are doing very well, and I love them and I loved going back and looking through my old pictures from 2003 and if you are a member of the Bizarre Beasts pin club, yes, you will be getting an armadillo in your mailbox sometime soon.

John, I'll see you on Tuesday.