Armadillos are New World placental mammals with a leathery armor shell. The Dasypodidae are the only surviving family in the order Cingulata, part of the superorder Xenarthra, along with the anteaters and sloths. The word armadillo in Spanish means "little armored one". The Aztecs called them āyōtōchtli, Nahuatl for “turtle-rabbit”: āyōtl (turtle) and tōchtli (rabbit).
About 10 extant genera and 20 extant species of armadillo have been described, some of which are distinguished by the number of bands on their armor. Their average length is about 75 cm (30 in), including tail; the giant armadillo grows up to 150 cm (59 in) and weighs up to 59 kg (130 lb), while the pink fairy armadillos are diminutive species with an overall length of 12 to 15 cm (5 to 6 in). All species are native to the Americas, where they inhabit a variety of environments.
Armadillos species are primarily found in South and Central America, particularly in Paraguay and surrounding areas. Many species are endangered. Some species groups, such as the long-nosed armadillos, are widely distributed over the Americas, whereas others, such as the fairy armadillos, are concentrated in smaller ranges in South America. One species, the nine-banded armadillo, (Dasypus novemcinctus), is found in the United States, primarily in the south-central states (notably Texas), but with a range that extends as far east as South Carolina and Florida and as far north as Nebraska; and midwestern in Kansas; they have been consistently expanding their range in North America over the last century due to a lack of natural predators, and have been found as far north as southern Illinois.