JUST DOING WHAT COMES NATURAL

armadillo

Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus

by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Armadillos can be a nuisance in lawns, landscapes and gardens. But they are just doing what comes natural. Armadillos have a tendency to migrate to well-maintained lawns and landscapes. This is partly true because moist soil is available. They can dig more easily and find insects, earthworms, spiders, scorpions and other invertebrates that make up their diet.

An armadillo is 12 to 18 inches long and weighs between 5 and 15 pounds. Their color is grayish or brownish-black with an armor-covered body, a long pointed nose, large ears and small eyes. The armadillo’s range now covers most of the Southeast, but it found its way here from Texas early in the 1900s. Reproduction is interesting in that only one litter is produced each year, and it always includes four identical young of the same sex. The young look like the adults except they are smaller and their armor coat is soft and leathery and becomes harder with age.

Food is found by digging silver dollar-sized holes in the landscape. The den site is made up of numerous “hiding” burrows throughout a 2- to 10-acre sized home range. Armadillos are active mostly at night. The amount of damage from armadillo foraging varies from one landscape to another. But the damage may not be as serious as it looks.

The removal of a problem armadillo is sometimes necessary. This is not a protected species and may be taken year round. Always use caution and follow any local or state laws that may apply before discharging a firearm near your residence.

Exclusion from small areas of extensive damage can be accomplished with fencing. The fence must be of small welded wire and at least 2 feet high. It should be slanted outward at about a 40 degree  bottom buried at least 18 inches deep. This method should be considered only where other options are less feasible.

A problem armadillo sometimes can be caught in a live trap. A relatively large cage type trap is recommended for this purpose. One of the best baits can be made by suspending earthworms tied in a piece of hosiery or similar material. Over ripe fruit is also recommended as bait. But some work has shown that correct placement and use of a trap is more important than the use of any bait. Armadillos are more likely to enter a cage trap when leaf litter or soil is placed over the wire bottom.

More specific information concerning armadillo biology and control is available online at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw082 or from the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your county.

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