Armadillos are a misunderstood, fascinating species. Yes, they look like an alien life form, but they are excellent to have around for the control of insects. They also eat snakes, snails, and spiders! They dig and root constantly driven by an insatiable appetite for delectable gourmet delights - insects and grubs - that can be harmful to lawns and gardens. These facts may not be a comfort to you as you gaze upon the damage done to your yard and garden. Armadillos are not doing anything wrong. They are simply foraging for food in an effort to survive. They cross the line with humans, become a nuisance, and must be removed once they cause damage in yards or dig burrows in pastures that can be a danger to livestock.
Armadillos are close cousins to anteaters and related to sloths. Their finely barbed, sticky tongue makes it easy to access ant hills and remove an abundance of ants for a snack.
An armadillo uses its nose to root and their powerful claws to dig. Their long heads with pointy snouts create a cone-shaped pit that can be 3-4 inches deep with a large amount of dirt banked around it. Raccoon diggings look similar to the damage caused by armadillos. However, raccoons use their hand-like paws to dig. The shape of the divot they create is different. The location of the damage primarily determines which wildlife culprit you are dealing with. Raccoons generally cause damage to an entire lawn. Armadillos damage areas along the borders of a path or garden. A trained wildlife professional can easily spot the difference between damage done by raccoons and damage caused by armadillos.
Armadillos are nocturnal which makes them active at night. They are not social critters and only get together with other armadillos to mate or keep warm. They can spend upwards of 16 hours a day sleeping. However, while awake it is rare to find an undisturbed armadillo that is not digging burrows or foraging for food.
If you have an armadillo on your property then a good source of food is nearby. Armadillos forage mornings and evenings for food and are primarily insectivores. 90% of their diet consists of insects and insect larvae. However, they are also considered to be omnivores because they will eat both plants and animals. Their diet generally consists of insects, insect larvae (grubs), plants, bird and lizard eggs, seeds, some fruits, and worms. To a lesser degree they consume small lizards, snails, frogs, and dead animals. Some species of armadillo dine solely on ants and termites using their finely barbed, sticky tongue to catch a tongue full. They have poor eyesight with a highly developed sense of smell. It is said that armadillos are able to sense the movement of termites in the ground!
An armadillo that has burrowed around the foundation of a home can destroy the barrier that pest control operators create for pest control, and this could void the warranty on a termite contract. The pest control company may require you to rid your property of armadillos before they treat your property for termites.
The way that armadillos reproduce is fascinating! They breed in July, yet the embryo manages to somehow lay dormant until November. Their gestation period is 2-5 months. Litter sizes do vary according to the armadillo species. The nine-banded armadillo delivers 4 identical pups of the same gender in each litter. All 4 pups develop from the same egg and share the same placenta. Armadillos are the only mammal that regularly deliver multiple young that form from a single egg. Pups are born with their eyes open and become mobile within a few hours of birth. The mother nurses her babies until they are weaned at approximately 2 months. The pups then remain with the mother until the next breeding season. When the babies are 2 years old they are mature and ready to breed. If startled an armadillo may leap 3 feet straight up in the air before running. Their life span is 4-30 years unless it decides to cross a road or highway. Their response when startled may be responsible for many of the road-kill armadillos that you see.
Armadillos are the only mammal that has a hard shell. The shell is tough and flexible with armor-like plates. The shell is simply modified skin that covers the armadillo’s body for protection. Armadillo is Spanish for “little armored one”. How apropos! Other armadillo monikers include: nearsighted rooter, armored possum, Texas speed bump, and Hoover hog just to name a few. The nine-banded is cat-size: 2.5 feet in length weighing 12 pounds on average. There are 20 different armadillo species in the Americas. Each species differs in size, habitat, diet, and the number of “pups” that are born to their litters.
The nine-banded armadillo is the only armadillo species in the US, and it is primarily found in the southeast. Armadillos do not hibernate and have no fat stores to insulate them against cold temperatures. Thus, they prefer climates that are temperate to warm. They cannot endure prolonged freezing weather.
A bacteria known as Mycobacterium leprae or M. Leprae is the primary cause of leprosy or Hansen’s disease. Humans, armadillos, and mangabey monkeys are the only mammals that can be infected with leprosy. It can take 3-5 years for symptoms of leprosy to manifest. Yikes!
Another moniker for armadillos is Poor Man’s Pork. Yes, there are people that eat armadillos and say it tastes like pork! The meat must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that the meat is noninfectious. That is the secret. The greater risk of contracting leprosy would be during the cleaning and dressing of the animal for consumption. It is possible to contract leprosy through contact with body tissue or fluids. If the bacteria is in the soil it will die off the soil is hot and dry. Still, it is wise to develop good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly any time you work in soil. To learn more about the armadillos and leprosy, visit this link from the CDC.
So if you have armadillos in your yard in Bartlett, TN, give Apex Wildlife Control a call today. Our skilled technicians are trained to humanely trap and remove the armadillo from your property. We can handle your problem armadillo for you!