Unlike other armadillo species, the southern three-banded armadillo usually does not dig burrows, and instead takes refuge in the abandoned burrows of other animals such as anteaters (3) (4). While generally a solitary species, as many as twelve southern three-banded armadillos have been found sharing a burrow during the winter (3). This species has a broad diet, comprising of a variety of invertebrates, particularly beetle larvae, which are taken throughout the year, along with large quantities of ants and termites during the dry season (July to November), and fruits during the summer rains (5). When foraging for ants and termites, this species will probe the ground with its snout, prise off tree bark, or tear into nests with its powerful claws.
The southern three-banded armadillo has an interesting mode of locomotion, walking on its hind-legs with the tips of the foreclaws touching the ground (3). Although when threatened this species is capable of running remarkably quickly to escape, more commonly it curls into a ball, which even strong-jawed predators such as dogs are unable to break open (3) (6). As an additional defence, while curled up, the southern three-banded armadillo will leave a small gap between the edges of the body shells open. When the predator inserts a claw or snout into this gap in an attempt to reach the soft body parts, the armadillo quickly closes it, causing pain and possibly injury to the predator (6) (7).
Breeding is believed to occur between October and January (4), with most births in Paraguay occurring between November and January (3). After a gestation period of 120 days, the female gives birth to a single young, which is suckled for a further 10 weeks (2) (4). The southern three-banded armadillo reaches sexual maturity at around 9 to 12 months old, and has been known to live for over 17 years in captivity (3).