Oklahoma, OK Armadillos

Identification

The armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) has a protective armor of “horny” material on its head, body and tail. This bony armor has nine movable rings between the shoulder and hip shield. The head is small with a long, narrow, piglike snout. Canine and incisor teeth are absent. It has peglike cheek teeth that range in number from seven to nine on each side of the upper and lower jaw. The long tapering tail is encased in 12 bony rings. Its track is usually three-toed and shows sharp claw marks. The armadillo is about the size of an opossum, weighing from 8 to 17 pounds (3.5 to 8 kg).

 

Range and Habitat

The armadillo ranges from south Texas to the southeastern tip of New Mexico, through Oklahoma, the southeastern corner of Kansas and the southwestern corner of Missouri, most of Arkansas and southwestern Mississippi. The range also includes southern Alabama, Georgia and most of Florida.

The armadillo prefers dense, shady cover such as brush, woodlands, forests and areas adjacent to creeks and rivers. It prefers sandy or loam soils that are loose and porous, b will also inhabit areas having cracks, crevices, and rocks that are suitable for burrows.

 

Fun Facts

The armadillo is active primarily from twilight through early morning hours in the summer. In winter it may be active only during the day. The armadillo usually digs a burrow 7 or 8 inches (18 or 20 cm) in diameter and up to 15 feet (4.5 m) in length for shelter and raising young. Burrows are located in rock piles, around stumps, brush piles, or terraces around brush or dense woodlands. Armadillos often have several dens in an area to use for escape.

The young are born in a nest within the burrow. The female produces only one litter each year in March or April after a 150-day gestation period. The litter always consists of quadruplets of the same sex. The young are identical since they are derived from a single egg.

The armadillo has poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell. In spite of its cumbersome appearance, it's agile and can run well when in danger. It's a good swimmer and able to walk across the bottom of small streams.

 

Damage Identification

Most armadillo damage occurs as a result of their rooting in lawns, golf courses, vegetable gardens and flower beds. Characteristic signs of armadillo activity are shallow holes, 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) deep and 3 to 5 inches (7.6 to 12.7 cm) wide, when they dig for food. They also uproot flowers and other ornamental plants. They may also burrow under foundations, driveways and other structures and rub their shells against houses or other structures.

There is evidence that armadillos may be responsible for the loss of domestic poultry eggs. This loss can be prevented through proper housing or fencing of nesting birds.

Public Health
Disease is a factor associated with this species. Armadillos can be infected by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, which causes leprosy. They may pose a potential risk for humans, particularly in the Gulf Coast region, but no cases have been reported.

 

Legal Status

Armadillos are unprotected in most states.

 

Prevention and Control Methods

Exclusion
Fences or barriers are generally not practical, but a possible option.

Cultural Methods
Clear brush and other cover to reduce habitat.

Repellents
None are registered.

Toxicants
None are registered.

Fumigants

None are registered.

Trapping
Live traps (box traps). Leghold traps (size No. 1 or 2). Conibear® 220.

 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The above information was adapted from PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF WILDLIFE DAMAGE with permission of the editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, and Gary E. Larson (Cooperative Extension Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control, Great Plains Agricultural Council Wildlife Committee).

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