Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: How Do You Get Rid of a Problematic Armadillo?

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

ECOVIEWS: How Do You Get Rid of a Problematic Armadillo?

Article excerpt

I recently received the following questions, which are variations of ones I have received in the past about armadillos.

Q:I have heard from friends who have a problem with armadillos digging up their whole yards. The last time I saw one was in Texas. Do they now occur farther east? Are armadillos mammals? What do they eat, and will they bite? What can be done about them?

A:Armadillos belong to a distinctive family of insect-eating mammals. Most of the 20 or so species live in Central and South America, but the nine-banded armadillo is native to the United States. Questions from people about how to get rid of armadillos in suburban neighborhoods have become more frequent as these armored burrowers continue to extend their geographic range.

In the 1950s, nine-banded armadillos were native to Louisiana and Texas, and they had been introduced into southern Florida, where, by the 1960s, they were very conspicuous.

By the 1990s, armadillos had moved up the Florida peninsula into Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. One -biologist noted that "armadillos crossed I-20 going north in 1995."

An armadillo's food comes from beneath the soil, which they dig up with enormous shovel-like front feet as they search for beetle grubs living in the dirt. They also eat hundreds of other kinds of insects and worms. Part of their nuisance factor comes from their digging in soft soil, such as raised beds, tilled gardens, and watered lawns. On the positive side of the ledger, armadillos eat fire ants, which some folks might think outweighs any bad traits they might have.

If you can find an armadillo during daytime, removing it from an area is easy. Chase it down, grab the long tail and lift it off the ground. Armadillos are near-sighted, so it is often easy to get close enough to catch them. I have never heard of an armadillo biting a person, but they do flail their feet trying to escape and can scratch. Let me qualify this message by saying I am not recommending this as a standard armadillo-removal technique for the average home owner. …

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