Armadillos

Armadillos are small and medium-sized mammals. The word ‘Armadillo’ means “little armored one,” which refers to the bony plates that cover much of these strange looking creatures’ back, arms, and tail. They are the only mammals that carry such a shell. In general, armadillos are closely related to anteaters and sloths and have a pointy or shovel-shaped snout and small eyes. They can be found in almost all sizes and colors, varying From the 6-inch-long, salmon-colored pink fairy armadillo to the 5-foot-long, dark-brown giant armadillo.

What do they look like?

Armadillos have pointed snouts and long, sticky tongues that are similar to its close cousins, anteaters. Their eyesight is weak, so they hunt with a sense of smell, which is highly developed. They also have wiry hairs around their sides and abdomen, which they use to feel their way on the ground. For digging, they also have sturdy legs and sharp claws. Their head is small in comparison to its bulky body. The skull is tubular; they have a long and slender lower jaw. Each jawbone has 7 or 8 teeth, or sometimes 14-16 teeth in Both the upper and lower jaw.

Shells

Armadillos have about 7- 10 bands on their shell even though the name indicates nine. Contrary to the popular beliefs, Just one species, the three-banded Armadillo, can roll itself into a hard armored ball to protect itself against predators. Other species of Armadillo simply dig a hole quickly and hunker down so that their tender stomach is covered, and the only thing visible is their armor. The other types of Armadillo have too many plates to be roll-flexible. 

Habitant

Many armadillos stick to areas near to the equator because they prefer warm areas due to their lack of fat stores. Based on what sort of soil is present in the region, armadillos are very picky about where they live, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. Typically, armadillos prefer loose and porous surfaces like sandy or loam soil. This makes it simpler to search for food and dig holes. 

Armadillos have little body fat and thin shells, but, as most mammals do, they do not regulate their internal temperature. This triggers a change in their actions from season to season. For instance, armadillos may be nocturnal in hotter months, foraging at night when it is cooler and easier to move about. The same armadillos may start feeding earlier in the day if the weather cools down, becoming more regular. 

Habits

Armadillos are not social mammals and spend much of their time deep in sleep. According to National Geographic, they normally sleep up to 16 hours per day in holes dug by them. They scavenge for food in the morning and evenings. The only time armadillos get together is usually to mate or to stay warm. In winters, A group of armadillos can hunker down in a Tunnel together to share body heat. A seven-banded armadillo is most likely to share its burrow with those of the same gender. 

Diet

Armadillos are omnivores, meaning they consume meat and plants, but, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Harm Control, 90% of an armadillo diet consists of insects and larvae. Armadillos capture ants, beetles, termites, and other insects with their long, sticky tongues after digging them out of the holes. They also eat Plants, larvae, small vertebrates, and eggs. They will, from time to time, scavenge for dead animals. A large number of armadillos keep their dietary habits simple by digging for insects and worms. Some species have been observed feasting on lizards, snakes, fowl eggs, and fruit. 

Enemies

Armadillos have very few wild enemies, but predators such as coyotes, wolves, black bears, bobcats, cougars, foxes, and raccoons are known to capture and kill armadillos. The young Armadillo can fall prey to hawks, owls, and feral pigs. As feral pig populations increase in an area, the armadillo population is subjected to a decrease. Like most mammals, Armadillos do not understand cars and traffic. Hence they are very likely to be run over by a car or any vehicle.

Adult armadillo

Diseases

Armadillos can bear diseases that are transmissible to humans, although it’s very unlikely to happen. Armadillos can have leprosy and are used to study this disease in depth. Only two cases have been reported in the whole of the United States in which humans have caught leprosy from a wild armadillo. The transmission occurred when both people consumed raw or undercooked armadillo meat. In Texas, one wild Armadillo was confirmed to have rabies, but there has been no documented transmission to humans. On average, Armadillos have 14 different types of worms, but the effect of these parasites on the animal’s health is unknown. 

Relation with a man

Armadillos, to some extent, are served as a food source to humans. Particularly during the Great Depression,  they were called Poor Man’s Pork. Infrastructure development has helped Armadillos remove its predators, and building roadways have expanded their travel range. 

Musical Instruments

A 10-stringed, lute-like instrument known as Charangos in Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador is an important part of traditional Andean music. The charango’s contemporary incarnations are now made of wood or occasionally calabash gourds, although they were once crafted from an armadillo’s dried shell. 

Classification 

Twenty-one armadillo species together constitute the Dasypodidae family. Anteaters (see pangolin) look similar to armadillos; however, they are not found in the New World and belong to a separate mammalian order (Pholidota). Armadillos are classified as exotic species as well as a pest. Georgia law forbids holding armadillos in captivity. However, They can be hunted or trapped during the year. There are no threats to their survival, at least from wildlife. On average, males are around 25 percent heavier than females. The sexes are easy to identify by four teats in females, even though males lack a scrotum and external testes. Both sexes have anal glands that protrude when the animal is excited. The anal glands contain a potent odor but do not spray, like a skunk. 

Paleontology

When you think of extinct megafauna, dinosaurs, or woolly mammoths are usually the first creatures to pop into your brain, but there is a wealth of lesser-known creatures that are just as staggering. During the Miocene Period (5 to 23 million years ago), glyptodonts evolved in South America.they were equipped with large tortoise-like shells that made them comparable in size to small Volkswagen Beetles. 


Glyptodonts became extinct, like many other ancient megafaunas, at the end of the last ice age, although their smaller and more lightly armored relatives survived. A 2-meter (6.6-foot), 230-kg (500-pound) beast which roamed Florida as recently as 10,000 years ago are extinct relatives of today’s armadillos. Whether or not pre-Columbian humans contributed to the extinction of Glyptodonts is not yet known. In Texas, an almost complete skeleton of an even larger species was discovered, dating from the Pleistocene Period (approximately 2.6 million years ago). This species belonged to an extinct armadillo subfamily and was about the size of a rhinoceros. Prehistoric and sometimes huge armadillos with a single unjointed carapace were the extinct glyptodonts. 

Conservation Status:

Armadillos are not endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, some species are vulnerable. For instance, the Andean hairy Armadillo and the giant Armadillo are considered vulnerable as their population has taken a dip by at least 30 percent in the past 21 years. 

Reproduction
Armadillos litter to anywhere from 1 to 12. The common nine-banded Armadillo bears young as a group of identical quadruplets form in the uterus from a single fertilized egg; this phenomenon is called polyembryony. The gestation period is four months, but this does not involve a variable latency period of up to several months between egg fertilization and uterus wall implantation. Young armadillos are born with smooth, leathery skin and can walk after birth within a few hours. Some armadillos have a lifespan of up to 15 years.

Armadillos become sexually mature at around one year of age. Their breeding season lasts from June to August. They have delayed implantation (a developmental stage when the fetus is attached to the uterine wall), which can last up to four months. Implantation happens about November and takes about four months. The female normally only produces one litter per year. Four different embryos give birth to a single fertilized egg. Each litter thus has four identical quadruplets. 


In March or April, fully developed Baby Armadillos are born with their eyes open. They weigh just 3-4 ounces at birth and can walk within a few hours, but stay for 2-3 weeks in the nest or burrow. The young ones follow their mother in search of food. They leave their nests in 20-22 days, drink water in 21-25 days, consume solid food in35-42 days, eat insects in 71-74 days, and are weaned in about 90-140 days. At birth, the armor plates on the young are soft and flexible. The male Armadillo has no role in raising the young ones.

Behavior

Armadillos are not the most productive creatures you will come across. They spend much of their time digging holes and wandering. They travel between 0.15 and 0.65 miles per hour. They search for food by smell and sound, sometimes grunting like pigs and with their snouts in the dirt. They use their sticky tongue for hunting for food in the holes they dig with their sharp claws.

Climbing trees is undoubtedly not the distinct characteristic of Armadillos, but they are decent climbers and readily climb fences. Armadillos can cross the water while holding their breath by swimming in a traditional dog-paddle motion, but They search for Fallen and leaning logs and trees to cross streams and rivers. Buoyancy is boosted by inhaling air into the lungs. Armadillos can cross small water bodies by holding their breath. On hot days, Armadillo is known to take mud baths, eliminate parasites, and cool off in hot weather. 

They make low grunting noises when feeding or calling their mothers. Other sounds are described as pig-like sounds, ”buzzing noise,” Or bad purring” when they try to nurse. In a laboratory, they can learn basic things, such as identifying patterns in a Y-maze. Armadillos are mainly solitary animals except for the mating period.

How to save your land from Armadillos?

An armadillo’s digging habits are known to be extremely destructive, which is why it’s a must to be in control at the first signs of damage. The first step is to identify the area of damage.

Identifying Areas of Damage

Whether the Armadillos are excavating your lawn for food or burrowing underground for shelter, they are most destructive when they’re digging. Identifying areas of damage will help you assess the conditions and give you the best control option.

  •  Common armadillo activities include digging holes throughout the lawn, about 3-5″ wide and about 1-3″ deep.
  • Uprooting plants and burrowing next to or underneath structures such as sidewalks, driveways, or building foundations or damaging underground pipes and wires.

Reduce Attractants

Armadillos enter the yard in search of food and a place to live. Since the majority of an armadillo’s food is found underground in the form of insects, completely removing attractants from your yard is nearly impossible. However, there are important steps you should take to make your yard less welcoming:

  • Remove covers like woodpiles, low-lying bushes, and shrubs. Armadillos prefer to dig in areas with ample shelter, so by opening up your yard, they’ll make themselves at home.
  • Pick fallen berries or fruit, which may attract armadillos. Armadillos will walk through your yard in search of food and a place to live. Since much of the food an armadillo prefers is underground, it is almost impossible to eliminate attractants entirely. 

Choose the Right Control Method

Once you mark your armadillo problem, you can select the control method best suited for you. Each method is different and plays its own role in getting rid of armadillos, so it’s important to note that the more controlled method you apply, the more effective your defense will be.

  1. Live Trap

Use a live trap to remove armadillos living in burrows on your property manually, and trapping is all about proper trap placement. Armadillos have common pathways when foraging, which makes their path very predictable. 

When using a cage trap, for best results, position the trap directly in front of the entrance to the burrow. Place the trap along the fence line. To funnel the Armadillo towards the trap, Open the trap in the shape of “V” with the help of wooden planks. THERE IS NO NEED TO USE BAIT, IT WILL ONLY ATTRACT OTHER ANIMALS!

HOWEVER, we ONLY use “The Armadillo Trap”. It has made trapping armadillos practically idiot proof. You can see how it works here:

  1. Armadillo Repellents

If you do a regular Google search for repelling armadillos, you will find something like this…but none of them work!

“An effective castor oil-based repellent can be used to drive armadillos out and stop them from digging for food on your land. Castor oil is an all-natural oil that penetrates the land and repels armadillos in two ways.

  • It Spoils the food sources (insects, grubs, etc.) underground, making them unpleasant to eat.
  • Creates an unpleasant odor inside burrows.
  1. Electronic Repellents (Worthless)

Use an electronic repellent to keep armadillos far away from your land. A motion-activated sprinkler bursts water to scare passing armadillos. Motion-activated sprinklers are used to protect vegetables, gardens, plants, mulch beds, flower beds, entryways, and tree pathways.

 Electronic repellents immediately repel armadillos, scaring them off, making them a great addition to castor-oil repellents, which produce longer-term effects underground. A motion-activated sprinkler shoots bursts of water on passing armadillos to scare them away. “

In 30 years of trapping armadillos, the closest thing I have found to a repellent is loose rock places around the house or any other place where there is digging (obviously, this will not work in an open yard where they are feeding).

Loose rock is great around the perimeter of the home and other areas where they are burrowing. I have not seen any studies on this, only my own experiments. I believe the loose rocks are too difficult for them to move.

  1. Fencing

Fencing may disturb the aesthetics of your backyard, but it’s useful and one of the best ways to keep your yard clean from armadillo destruction. To altogether remove armadillos from your yard or garden, use a correctly built fence.

Use a properly constructed fence to exclude armadillos from your yard or garden completely. Your armadillo fence should stand at least 24 inches tall, penetrate the ground by being at least 12 inches below the ground, and should have an angle outwards at the top of about 40° for maximum protection.

Conclusion

Armadillos are fun little animals to have around. Some people have no problem tolerating their damage, other people say “They gotta go!”. Keep in mind, while your dog may hurt or kill them, the armadillo will not attack or hurt your dog.

Before evicting them, I suggesting asking if you can keep them around and enjoy their presence!

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Dusty Showers has been in the urban nuisance wildlife and pest control field since 1993. Taught by Garon Fyffe, a pioneer in humane nuisance wildlife management, Dusty has a passion for finding humane solutions to human & wildlife conflicts. Dusty was the only individual invited by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in the lat 1990's to help write legislation for legal protection of Florida bats. With an instinct for solving wildlife, Dusty found pest control to be an easy "add-on interest". Dusty started his first business "Animal Instincts Wildlife & Pest Management" in the Tampa Bay, Florida area in 1995. Eventually selling Animal Instincts in 2002, Dusty went on to start Creepy Creatures Termite and Pest Control in 2009, which he still owns and operates today in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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