of trees and shrubs. This burrowing activity also damages concrete
slabs, creating air pockets beneath the concrete that weakens (and many
times cracks) the foundation of homes and other buildings. Homes built
off-grade (including mobile homes) are not immune to armadillo
damage. Their tunnels help create water run-off problems and often
cause flooding beneath homes.
are similar in size to a possum with a protective shell and a long
snout. They have no teeth. Armadillos have a very strong sense of smell
but poor eyesight.
can even run and swim well. Frogs, baby birds, bird’s eggs, spiders,
ants, insect larvae and a host of other invertebrates are favorite foods
they are one of the few animals who will take on fire ants. Armadillos
continuously grunt while searching for food and appear not to be
particularly attentive to their surroundings. In fact, if you hold still
it may be possible to have a foraging armadillo actually bump into you.
the twenty species of armadillo that exist throughout the Americas, the
nine-banded armadillo (dasypus novemcinctus) is the only one
found in the United States, having colonized here from South America
only within the last 150 years. The word Dasypus is derived from
the Latin word for rabbit, Novem means nine and cinctus means
band. Literally, it translates to "nine-banded rabbit." It is
said that armadillos without their shells resemble rabbits.
armadillos have several unique characteristics that distinguish them
from other mammals, the more than 2,000 bony scales that cover the head,
legs and back are their most notable features. The Spanish word
armadillo means "little armored one."
"armor" of the armadillo is composed of bony plates covered by
a leathery skin. Unlike some of his relatives, the nine-banded armadillo
can’t roll up into a ball. His defense from predators is to either dig
or enter an existing burrow or to press his unprotected belly against
the ground with his legs tucked under his shields.
nine-banded is the only armadillo who can swim, though, and—it’s not
a myth—these armadillos may even hold their breath and walk along the
bottom when crossing streams.
armadillo mating season occurs during July and August, but implantation
is delayed several months until about November. The normal litter size
is four, all of the same sex and all genetically identical because the
offspring are derived from a single egg.
kits are born fully developed, but it takes several weeks for the pink
leathery skin to harden into its lifelong protective covering.
Armadillos are sexually mature at about one year of age and reportedly
live for 12 to15 years.
are several wildlife control measures that can be used to rid yourself
of nuisance armadillos: shooting, elimination of their food source,
repelling or trapping.
is self-explanatory, but we’ll go over the other options. Most people
will first try eliminating the insects or grubs in their lawn as their
first step in ridding themselves of armadillos.
instance, in certain areas of the Southeast, the presence of armadillos
coincides with molecricket infestations in lawns. If armadillos
are digging in your lawn because you have a problem with these insects,
go to your local Co-op for suggestions on what insecticide can be used
or what other remedy is available.
its food source disappears, the animal’s burrowing may actually
increase for a day or so. Remember that the armadillo is about as
smart as a bag of rocks and it may take a few days for it to realize it
needs to move on.
work on some animals quicker than others and can sometimes be applied
only once to gain the sought after results. But, armadillos are among
the most stubborn of lawn pests and it might take several applications
of a repellent or a combination of an insecticide and a repellent to get
the job done.
can be used to successfully exclude armadillos from your property.
Armadillos are able climbers and skilled diggers, however, so any type
of fencing must take these attributes into account. Bury the fence a
foot or more down to deter tunneling and prevent "climb-overs"
by including a rigid overhang that extends outward for a foot or more at
about a 45° angle.
raccoon trap offered by your local Co-op store can be used to remove
unwanted armadillos. As mentioned, armadillos have fantastic noses
but poor eyesight and are about as sharp as a ball bearing. They can be
easily "channeled" toward and into a trap. The best location
for trap placement is near the entrance of one of their burrows.
fence sections, rigid wire, flexible wire attached to temporary posts or
pallets affixed to the ground, set on end around the burrow entrance
such that the emerging armadillo will be forced to move in the direction
of the channel formed by other panels of your fence.
the fencing to form the channel leading away from the burrow without the
trap in place for a night or two before adding the trap to allow the
armadillo to get accustomed to it. Then, set the trap door and place the
trap at the far end of the fence channel. Make sure that the fence
sections adjoining the trap overlap the trap on the outside edges next
to the door.
if the soil is uneven, it may be helpful to place a board, stone or soil
under the trap so that the trap entrance is level and the armadillo will
have no problem entering. Baits (earthworms, fresh fruit) are not
necessary using this trap method, but can be placed inside the trap as
an added attraction. Set the trap before dusk and check it in the
armadillos can be released back into the wild some miles from the
capture site or disposed of humanely.
Before you handle
an armadillo, remember that they have strong claws and can carry
infectious diseases. When startled, an armadillo can jump straight
upward three to four feet into the air. This reflex may help scare off
predators in the wild but has also caused broken noses and teeth in
unsuspecting humans. These animals are wild and should be treated as
such. One should never attempt to handle or keep them.