The Foxy Armadillos
January 2018 by V. R. Duin


For weeks, the 'dillos life was swell,
But things don't always go so well.
The fox came back to claim his den.
How could the armadillos win?
(“The Foxy Armadillos”)

With “The Foxy Armadillos”, some unusual landlubbers add pirate talk to the Little Ray collection of seafaring books for children.

Plank-Walking Good, Landlubbers! In pirate talk, armadillos would not be pleased to hear themselves dubbed “landlubbers”. They would tell every seafarer to learn the word 'dillos and include it in pirate talk. Armadillos do great under water, so they should never be considered out of place in Little Ray's collection of seafaring books for children. Like fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians, armadillos are animals.

Like dolphins and whales, armadillos are in the animal class of mammals. Armadillos do not live in water all of the time, but they are “at home” in the water. Armadillos can hold their breath for six minutes, while walking under water. Much as fish inflate their swim bladders for buoyancy, this unique mammal can inflate its intestines to add buoyancy for paddling across water. What true pirate would say 'dillos don't belong in the Little Ray collection of seafaring books for children?

Heave Ho, Landlubbers! Like frogs, armadillos have long sticky tongues to catch insects. They also have large claws with which to dig burrows for their homes and carve into underground nests to slurp up burrowing ants and spiders. Like stingrays, armadillos have poor eyesight. Stingrays use their sense of smell and the electric sense common to sharks to find food. Similarly, armadillos focus on smelling for bugs, so distractions don't bother them. Because of their protective armor, armadillos also have no need to worry about stings or bites from their prey. Sharks also sport armor-like scales, so armadillos deserve a spot among them in seafaring books for children.

This energetic, hard-working animal must forage daily for food. Armadillos will eat food, dead or alive, much like a shark. Their happy hunting grounds and their escape routes include thorny brush lands, where few predators tread and no pirate talk is heard. The three-banded armadillos, like those in “The Foxy Armadillos”, can roll into a ball for added protection. They have fewer bony plates to haul around than other armadillo species. Armadillos have long pointy noses and big trumpet-like ears. Although armadillos may not be included among the cutest of creatures, neither are rays or sharks. However, there's no doubt, true pirates would say: “Anchors Aweigh!” These animals are ship-rocking special.

Shiver Me Timbers, Landlubbers! Female nine-banded armadillos produce one egg that splits into four identical offspring. For preservation of the species, this egg also can be put on hold, while the mother awaits a favorable season or time for it to grow and develop. Armadillos can live up to 15 years, about the same life span as stingrays. Sharks typically live for 20 to 30 years, but some species can live for 100 years or more. The Greenland shark may wait 100 years to start making babies. Imagine the advantage of delaying the arrival of offspring until survival opportunities are at their best. That sharks also can do this, earns these critters a place in seafaring books for children.

The ability to delay implantation of the fertilized egg may help these amazing creatures colonize new areas. A mother armadillo can keep the weight of her future offspring at a minimum until she resettles. To delay the birth of their babies, some stingray and shark mothers also are able to store sperm. Stingrays and sharks have been known to give birth for up to two years after the normal gestation period. Sharks' gestation periods average six months to two years, or longer. Females have given birth while in protective human care with no male shark present. In rare instances, shark reproduction can occur without any sperm transfer, at all. This should should give rise to some pirate talk.

Blimey, Landlubbers! Armadillos also have a unique technique for separation of the sexes. Each pup born in an armadillo litter is of the same sex as the others. They are fully developed at birth, but their armor is soft. In Spanish the name means “little armored one”. Armadillos originated in Latin America, where Spanish is widely spoken. Like stingrays and sharks, armadillos are action figures that should have great appeal to boys. They dig in the dirt, eat dead bugs and morph into armored balls. What's not to love?

Today, these cat-sized animals are widely distributed and considered naturalized in the United States of America. Like cats, they are also somewhat aloof. Rays and sharks also may ignore people while they are on the move. Their stealth and singular focus on familiar, bite-sized morsels should make it clear why armadillos joined Little Ray's collection of seafaring books for children. Aargh Matey! Yer gonna love these landlubbers! Get it? Aye, ye better or ye be walking the plank! Yo Ho Ho! Avast Ye! Ye better add “'dillos” to yer pirate talk and Pirate Terms and Phrases.

Landlubber Comments

  • landlubbers admin says:

    Landlubbers is used by nautical types to describe someone who is unfamiliar with the sea.

  • seafaring books for children admin says:

    Little Ray teaches children a lot about the nautical world in his collection of seafaring books for children.

    • armadillosadmin says:

      Pirate talk generally does not include armadillos, because few pirates see these nocturnal land animals.