Armored Animals

Animals in nature have to find ways to protect themselves. Some use shells. Some use horns or spines. Some use thick skin. All of these can save an animal from a predator.

Armadillos get their name from the Spanish word armado. It means 'armored one'. The armadillo looks like it is wearing a coat of armor. Bony plates cover the animal's body. They are attached to soft skin underneath. These plates protect the armadillo from enemies and also insect bites. There are no plates on its underside. The armadillo can roll its armored body into a very tight ball with no gaps. This will protect it from enemies.

Every part of the armadillo's body has a purpose. Its eyes have thick lids to protect from insect bites. The armadillo has a strong sense of smell and can smell insects up to 8 inches below the ground. Its feet are strong claws. It uses the claws to dig a burrow and to find food and spends the day in the burrow. At night it comes out to look for insects. The armadillo's long nose pushes straight into an ant hill to find food. It can eat as many as four hundred thousand ants in one meal.

Porcupines move slowly. They need to have protection on their bodies. A porcupine is covered with thousands of tiny spikes. These are called quills. These stand on end when there is danger. If a porcupine stabs another animal with its quills, the quill snaps off. It stays in the other animal's body. Sometimes the quill can be very painful or harmful. If a big animal attacks a porcupine, it may get a quill stuck in its throat and starve.

A porcupine has bad eyesight, but very good hearing. Its feet are broad and heavy. Sharp claws help it to climb trees. The porcupine's deadliest enemy is a fisher. It is like a weasel. It flips the porcupine onto its back and attacks its belly and it kills it and eats it.

Its horn, large size and thick skin protect a rhinoceros. The horn is attached to a big bump on its nose. It is made of a substance like a fingernail. Rhinos are the only animal with a horn on their nose. Rhinoceros means 'nose horn'. Some species of rhino can have a horn as long as five feet.

A rhino has very few predators. The babies are sometimes killed by lions and hyenas. Man is its greatest enemy. People kill rhinos to get their horns and sell them to others to make medicine or knives with handles of horn. Some species of rhinos are almost extinct.

Crocodiles are protected from most predators by their strong jaws and teeth. It is a cold-blooded reptile. It has to come out of the water to get warm before it attacks its prey. The crocodile drags the victim under the water with its strong jaws. It drowns its prey and it leaves it there to rot. Then the crocodile comes back later to eat it.

In summary, many animals like the armadillo, porcupine, rhinoceros, and crocodile must have special protection on their bodies. They can have shells, tough skin, horns, or strong jaws and teeth. These can drive away possible predators. They can even kill or injure them.

A: It moves slowly.
B: It can't hear well.
C: Neither a nor b
D: Both a and b

A: Cold nose
B: Humpback
C: Nose horn
D: Horned head

A: It receives lots of insect bites.
B: It doesn't like ants.
C: The plates completely cover its body.
D: It has a strong sense of smell.

A: A mountain lion
B: A fox
C: A fisher
D: A badger

A: A substance like muscle
B: Bone
C: Hard skin
D: Scales

A: It needs to get warm.
B: It has poor eyesight.
C: It needs to see the size of the prey.
D: It wants to watch for other predators.

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