Of the armadillos or armored animals.

Translated by Kendal Simmons ’23

The armadillo is a very strange animal and a sight to behold for the Christians. It is unlike any other animal that has ever been seen in these or other parts of the world, with the exception of the armored horse. These four-legged animals are completely covered with a hide that consists of a single, very hard, chestnut-colored shell. Underneath that shell, its legs and tail stick out, and from their place its head and neck. Lastly, the armadillo’s shape is comparable to that of an armored warhorse or charger, and its size is like that of a small dog or a podenco[1]. The tail is around the length of a span and very thin at the end; its snout is long and the claws split twice, in such a way that there are three parts to each paw, with the middle claw being somewhat longer than the others, but all three are sharp. With those claws, they dig so quickly that only a great laborer could dig as well as this animal does. The armadillo will go digging fresh soil whether or not there is already a cave there and no matter how small the hole is in the first place. This animal makes its habitat in the mounds of dirt left by the river’s currents and in the flatlands; by digging with its paws, as previously described, they deepen their caves and dens in the same way that rabbits tend to do. The armadillo is an excellent delicacy. They are captured with nets and some are killed by crossbowmen, but most are captured when the fields are burned in order to sow or restore the pastures for the cattle. They are very cowardly and not dangerous at all. Once the shell is removed, they are very fat and most of the body is covered with a layer of fat or lard on top of the meat. Without salt they taste very sweet, so they are often eaten with salt; if they are not salted at least a day before they taste sickeningly sweet, to the point of being nauseating. But it is good meat and a healthy delicacy (Illus. 5.ª, fig. 2.ª). I have eaten them a few times and they taste better than roast kid. One cannot help but wonder if this animal was seen where the first armored horses originated, or rather if the armor of military horses was inspired by the armadillo.

[1] Also known as Portuguese Warren hounds, podencos are small to medium sized coursing hounds from Portugal, used primarily for rabbit hunting.