Editor’s note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.

Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.

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When armadillos are around, everyone has a ball.

Japanese may be more familiar with pill bugs, which are covered with armor-like exoskeletons and curl up into balls for protection.

At the Izu Animal Kingdom in Higashi-Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture, in mid-May, visitors could view a larger, mammalian version.

Hair covers the legs and stomach of the southern three-banded armadillo, a popular animal at the zoo. But its distinguishing feature is its leathery armor shell.

A closer look reveals a gentle face.

A video camera planted in the ground captured images of an armadillo rolled up in a ball the size of a melon in the exhibition facility.

Its peers were hiding behind a rock, tree or other objects.

“The animal is nocturnal by nature, but it moves around during the day depending on its living environment,” zookeeper Naoto Hirao, 22, said. “The weather is good, so the others may also start moving when it is warm enough.”

Soon, all the armadillos were quickly scurrying around. Some were trying to dig up the camera while others grabbed my pant leg. They seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The southern three-banded armadillo lives in rainforests and grasslands in Bolivia, Brazil and elsewhere in South America.

Armadillos belong to the same order of animals as anteaters and sloths. They apparently use their sense of smell rather than their sight to hunt for food. Termites are their favorite meals.

There are 20 armadillo species around the world, but the southern three-banded armadillo and the Brazilian three-banded armadillo are the only ones capable of rolling into a complete ball for protection.