What Am I?
01. I am a mammal. There are about 20 species of me in the Americas. One species lives in North America.
02. I am not a water mammal but I handle water extremely well. I can hold my breath for up to six minutes and my weight helps me to be able to walk on the bottom of the body of water for that time.
Or I can pull in air to inflate my body so that it floats while I do a quick little dog paddle to get me to where I am going.
03. At least one species always has four identical babies. These babies are from the same egg that splits into four. That also means the babies will be all boys or all girls. Because a female of me can control fertilization for up to two years there have been reports of virgin births until it was discovered that sperm can be stored for future fertilization.
04. I can jump three to four feet straight up when I am startled. If you see one of me lying dead alongside the road I was probably not run over. I was probably startled and jumped up colliding with the front of the car.
05. I can roll into a ball in order to protect my soft underside from predators.
06. My teeth have no enamel. They are also rather small. That is because my main diet is insects which require little chewing.
07. I am related to sloths and anteaters. My tongue is long and sticky in order to capture insects. I am one of the few animals that eats fire ants.
08. I am nearly blind and deaf but my sense of smell is so strong that it alerts me to many dangers. I use my sense of smell to locate food. I have long straggly fur on my underside to help sense the ground beneath me. It works in a way similar to cat's whiskers.
09. I am used in research for leprosy. I am one of few animals to contract leprosy systemically. Humans can "catch" leprosy from me, for instance by eating my infected meat. As for my meat, I was known as "Hoover's Hog" during the depression of the early part of the 1900's.
10. My name means "Little Armored Thing". The Spanish who named me saw the armored plates all over my body.
What Am I?