Armadillos Don’t Understand “Destructive”

Reader Contribution by Linda And Burt Crume
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Armadillos don’t intend to destroy sidewalks, houses, and other man-made structures. They are just digging a place to call home or are hungry and searching for the wide range of invertebrates they consume.  Most problems occur when armadillos dig under or along foundations, driveways and other structures.  They also can weaken levees along rivers and streams by digging long tunnels used for escape routes and to provide nests.

Damage to lawns, golf courses, and pastures can result in broken lawn maintenance equipment, and injury to humans and domestic animals may occur when stepping into an armadillo hole.  Of more consequence is the financial cost of maintaining smooth lawn surfaces on golf courses and other recreational areas.

Armadillos favor soft, easy to dig in, fertilized soil — exactly the type of prepared soil we use to grow vegetables and flowers, and grasses designed for humans’ recreational purposes and for aesthetic value.

Methods of control, according to University of Florida publication, The Nine-Banded Armadillo, by Joseph M. Schaefer and Mark E. Hostetler, include:

• Reduce Watering and fertilizing lawns

• Creating barriers (e.g. fences)

• Live-trapping

• Shooting offending individuals.

Reducing watering and fertilizing of your lawn will lessen armadillo damage.  Armadillos eat large amounts of earthworms and insect larvae and a moist fertilized lawn is perfect habitat for insects and invertebrates.

While armadillos can climb, creating a barrier of a 24-inch fence set at a 40-degree angle will keep them out.  You must also run the fence at least 18 inches underground to prevent them digging under.

There are several useful live-trapping methods.  Seemingly, the most popular method in Northwest Arkansas involves trapping armadillos in large, metal cage live-traps available from feed stores, hardware outlets, and many online sources.  These traps are usually set along building parameters or other straight-line obstacles.  Armadillos will bump into an obstacle and them walk along the line of the obstacle until they get around it.  Many people use “wings” of lumber directing the animal into the trap opening.  The use of baits in the trap doesn’t seem to increase the effectiveness of trapping.  Once the armadillo is captured, it can be relocated to an area away from where it was caught.  However, relocating the animal is not legal in some states (Texas and Florida), and moving the animal could help in the spread of disease.

Shooting is another method frequently used to control armadillos.  Hostetler and Schaefer recommend either a shotgun with No.4 to BB-sized shot or using a small caliber rifle.  In most places, using artificial light to aid in the shooting of armadillos at night is also illegal.  The authors also say that armadillo is edible if properly prepared.  There is no daily possession or season limit on them.  In researching for these armadillo blogs, I encountered only one person who said that they had eaten armadillo, and he liked it. 

I did encounter a story (verified by local law enforcement officials) where a man used his .38 Special pistol to shoot an armadillo crossing a road to his yard.  The man shot the animal, but the angle of the shot made the bullet ricochet from the armadillo’s hard shell across the road and into a house-trailer.  The bullet then entered the back of a large recliner where the man’s mother-in-law was sitting.  She was taken to the local emergency room, treated and released.  I have no more information regarding the outcome, and the man was not charged.

The next installment of this armadillo blog will be published next week…stay tuned for “To Shoot or not to Shoot.”  Shooting armadillos will run you afoul of the law in some states, as will relocation in others.  Keeping them as pets is also illegal in some states.  It seems that the only legal course involves recipes and other cooking details.

Next time I will complete this armadillo series with eradication ideas.

Photo by Getty Images/klausbalzano

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