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. All of these animals are vertebrates, with a spine and internal skeleton made of bone or cartilage to give them form and protect critical internal organs, such as the lungs and heart. However, each of these animals belongs to a different class. Dolphins and porpoises are different animals. Killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family.

Like dolphins, porpoises and whales, armadillos are in the animal class of mammals. However, armadillos are landlubbers. They are not true aquatic mammals. Mammals bear live young and nurse their babies with milk. Mammals are warmblooded and have lungs to breathe air. They cannot extract oxygen from the water. 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. Whales, porpoises and dolphins have blubber to help keep them afloat, insulate them from the cold and get them through lean times. What true pirate would use pirate talk to 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. Pirate talk clearly proves that armadillos deserve a spot in seafaring books for children. Here is a link to an organization that is entirely devoted to The Wonderful World of Armadillos.

These energetic, hard-working Landlubbers must forage daily for food. Unlike whales, porpoises and sharks, these mammals do not have a lot of fat. 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 and clearly belong among seafaring books for children.

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. Any pirate worth his salt would state in clear pirate talk that sharks also can do this. This feat alone would earn armadillos a place in seafaring books for children.

The ability to delay implantation of the fertilized egg may help these amazing Landlubbers 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. Because the mating process is unpleasant for the female, shark reproduction can occur without any sperm transfer, at all. This should should give rise to some pirate talk. These animals have a high rank in seafaring books for children.

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. They also are interesting and unusual finds for girls. What's not to love? Be sure to use your favorite words in pirate talk to tell everyone about the amazing armadillos in Little Ray's seafaring books for children.

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.

Pirate Talk

  • landlubbers Little Ray says:

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

  • seafaring books for children Little Ray says:

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

    • armadillosLittle Ray says:

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