The 9 banded Armadillo or Dasypus novemcinctus, gets its name because it has 9 horizontal bands that rundown its bone casing back. These bands help the armadillo flex is hard shelled back. A mature armadillo can grow from 15 to 17 inches long and weigh from 8 to 17 pounds. They’re normally about the size of a cat. Armadillos also have sticky, barbed tongues that aid in slurping up food. They have 30 – 32 teeth which are all peg shaped molars.
Even though Armadillos aren’t native to Florida (they’re actually native to New Mexico) they can now be found throughout the state. Armadillos like to burrow and usually keep up to 15 burrows within a 10 acre range. For this reason, armadillos rather living on land that has looser, softer soil which makes it easier for them to dig. Some Armadillo burrows have several entrances for emergency purposes but one entrance will be used more than others.
Armadillos usually eat insects such as grubs, worms, snails, ants, other invertebrates and some plants. They usually eat at night and they have very poor eye sight. They like to dig for their food and can even sniff insects that are 6” in the dirt. Not surprisingly, all this sniffing and digging for bugs can also wreak havoc on a healthy, green lawn.
Armadillos have terrible vision and probably wouldn’t notice you unless you walked right up on it. So the answer is usually no. However, you should never attempt to touch or pick one up. If an armadillo feels threatened it might run away from you OR bite and scratch you. The later could be prevented by just leaving the animal alone. If it’s burrowing on your property, call us and we can come trap it for you.
Always call a professional when it comes to removing wild life. As mentioned before, it is never a good idea to try to remove any wild animal by yourself. Doing so can cause you to be bitten or scratched severely. If an armadillo is truly on your property, you should notice large holes in your lawn, flowers uprooted but not eaten, you may see drag marks left behind from its tail and shell and you may also hear rubbing noises under your property. Also, since Hansen’s disease effects the nerves, loss of feeling or sensation can occur.
In the southern United States only the 9 banded Armadillos are naturally infected with Hansen’s disease aka Leprosy. Leprosy is a contagious disease that affects the skin, mucous membrane and nerves causing discoloration and lumps on the skin. In severe cases, disfigurement and deformities can occur. Armadillos, although rare, can also carry rabies. However, because an armadillo has a hard shell, they normally don’t carry around any insects. Salmonella can also be found in Armadillo feces.
Armadillos are considered to be a nuisance wildlife in the state of Florida. Because of this, once captured, they must be humanely put down. It is illegal to capture armadillos with live traps, transport and release these animals.