Armadillo – Friend or Foe?
Rather than fluffy fur and large puppy dog eyes, armadillos have small beady eyes, imposing looking hard armor, and frightfully strong arms with sharp claws. Armadillos are not cute or cuddly; they are not anthropomorphized into cartoon characters like chipmunks or even rats and mice. In fact, armadillos have more derogatory nicknames than almost any other animal. But, what harm do they cause? Armadillos are seldom seen except by the roadside in the South after they are hit by a car. They are perfectly camouflaged in their surroundings and there are primarily active at night. Armadillos are not aggressive towards humans, and they generally eat insects found in the sandy soil of the South such as termites, cockroaches, beetles, and grubs. Unlike other nuisance animals we handle, armadillos do not create nests and give birth in attics and basements. Armadillos and humans co-exist mostly in peace… until they come to your perfectly manicured lawn or golf course for a meal or two.
A Bit About Armadillos
Armadillos are actually fascinating creatures; the only species of armadillo in the United States is the Nine-Banded Armadillo. The Nine-Banded Armadillo is usually 15-17 inches in length and weighs between 6-12 pounds. Armadillos are the only mammals on earth that have a carapace, which is a boney shield covering their back like a turtle or a crab. They have poor eyesight, but an excellent sense of smell. Armadillo sleep for almost 16 hours per day. Nine-Banded Armadillos are excellent swimmers; they ingest air and hold it in their digestive tract to help them float. When threatened, they can jump 3-4 feet in the air. Unfortunately, they often perform this feat when in the path of an oncoming car.
Armadillo have unique breeding capabilities that almost always results in a litter of armadillos consisting of 4 genetically identical siblings. For humans, 4 identical quadruplets is almost unheard of; it is the norm for armadillo! This unique feature is helping scientists understand more about the gene expression of identical twins.
While the great majority of armadillos will never come into conflict with humans, when they do, it is usually because of their digging instinct. Armadillo live underneath the ground in burrows that are up to 7 feet deep and 20 feet long. One armadillo maintains multiple burrows of this size in his home area, sometimes up to 10 separate burrows. In addition to these burrows, they dig many shallow holes while foraging for grubs, beetles, worms, ants, and termites to eat. Armadillos can cause extensive damage to lawns, gardens, golf courses, and cemeteries. In the search for food and shelter armadillos can destabilize root systems of established trees, threaten the stability of your home’s foundation and the concrete of your driveway.
In addition to damage to your yard or garden, armadillos are known to carry Mycobacterium leprae, the bacteria that causes leprosy. In fairness to the armadillo, leprosy transmission to humans is rare, and thankfully leprosy is treatable with antibiotics.
How to Prevent Armadillos
There is no failsafe way to prevent armadillos from digging up your yard, but you can take steps to ensure your yard is not attracting armadillos.
- Avoid over-watering your lawn. Water only as necessary to discourage grub activity.
- Pick up any fruit that may have fallen from a fruit tree.
- Fencing around sensitive areas such as a garden may help, but the fence must extend deep into the ground to prevent armadillos from burrowing beneath the fence. Experts recommend that a fence to exclude armadillo be at least 18 inches in the ground and approximately 2 feet high.
How to Get Rid of Armadillos
If you are experiencing damage due to armadillo’s burrowing and foraging instincts, you must quickly stop the damage. Nextgen Pest Solutions has expert nuisance wildlife trappers who can remove the armadillos from your yard quickly and efficiently.
Because of their behavioral and physical characteristics, armadillos are considered one of the harder animals to trap. Accurate trap placement is the most important contingency with trapping armadillos as most baits will not attract them to the trap. They dig and forage for their food. Often an improperly placed trap baited with fruit or meat will capture a non-target animal such as a racoon rather than the armadillo.
To have the best chance of sucessfully trapping an armadillo, choose a large trap and place it near the entrance of the burrow or along a well-travelled armadillo path. If you cannot locate the burrow, place the trap along the fence line near the damage on your property. Meal worms and earth worms can be effective baits for your armadillo trap. Because armadillo have such poor eyesight, you will probably need to “guide” them into the trap. Wooden planks placed in a V-shape around the opening of the trap will help to funnel the armadillo into the trap. If you decide to try to trap the armadillos yourself, know the local and state regulations regarding what to do with it once its trapped. In many situations, it is illegal to relocate the animal.
Armadillos can cause damage to your yard quickly. If you live in a community with restrictions as to the quality of your lawn, you will need to pay to quickly repair or replace the lawn that was damaged. The quickest way to get rid of armadillos is to call a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer like Nextgen Pest Solutions. Our expert trappers have the experience and tools necessary to quickly stop the armadillos from damaging your yard.