Armadillo is Spanish for little armored one. The Aztecs called them āyōtōchtli meaning turtle rabbit.
The Nine-banded Armadillo is the state small mammal of Texas. It’s believed to have crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico in the late 19th century. They tend to be solitary, mostly nocturnal, and forage at dusk. It feeds mostly on ants, termites and other small invertebrates.
From the start I intend to draw in the anatomy . Usually I begin with the foundation (skeleton) and move back and forth from there. Here, I couldn’t help but complete the covered shell first and it causes me to have second thoughts. Would the anatomy add to the image? I could ruin everything. After reading more I decide to continue as planned.
The Texas mammal has a distinct shell casing made of bone. It has two large shell casings covering shoulders and rump, with seven or nine bands in the middle. When the armadillo is born, the armored shell is soft and leathery, and hardens once the animal reaches adult weight. Its total body length is about 15-17 inches, and the male weighs 11-17 lbs. while the female armadillo weighs in about 8-13 lbs. It has strong claws and a long, tapered tail covered by bony rings. It has 30 or 32 peg-shaped teeth and a long tongue.
A female armadillo reaches sexual maturity at 1 year and can produce up to 56 young ones over the course of her life. A single egg is fertilized, implantation is delayed 3-4 months, gestation is about 4 months during which identical quadruplets are split, each developing its own placenta. It will give birth to the same gender quadruplets from a single egg.
The armadillo symbolically connects to boundaries and shields. It points to vulnerabilities, empathy, discrimination, and the idea of being grounded. The armadillo wears its armor on its back and its medicine is in that part of its body. It encourages us to protect our inner selves.
This week I meditate on the little armored one.