“There’s another one!” Tom would tell Maddie and me as we were driving down the interstate in Georgia this summer. By the time it registered we needed to look outside our car going some 70 miles per hour we missed seeing anything. Tom was keeping his eye out for armadillos and, actually, roadkill armadillos which are pretty common in the south. We never did see a live armadillo but we may be seeing more dead and live armadillos as they’re migrating north and have been sighted already in parts of southern Nebraska. So what do you need to know about this traditionally southern wild animal potentially invading our state?
They aren’t the prettiest animals in the world. Picture an opossum with a hard armor-like shell on its back and you’ve got an idea what an armadillo looks like. It has a long rat-like armored tail, long pointy claws on its four feet and small ears and tiny eyes. I’m sure the southern states don’t mind that armadillos are leaving the area.
They’re strange animals in that, with their armor suited more for desert life, they are good swimmers and have been known to handle being underwater for up to six minutes at a time without coming up for air. They’ll either walk along the bottom of a body of water or inflate their intestines and float on the top.
Not only do they not drown, they don’t have many predators because animals have a tough time biting through that hard shell. Armadillos can multiply pretty fast with females delivering identical quadruplet armadillo multiple times.
It might be a novelty to see an armadillo in Nebraska at first until they start becoming pests. Armadillos are prolific diggers and people in the southern states haven’t found any traps or deterrents from armadillos churning up their lawns and gardens. An armadillo can dig a hole a few feet deep to hide in. Nebraska skunks just smell bad.
In North Carolina, bounties of up to $100 have been awarded for captured/killed armadillos. They’re difficult to hunt as they’ve been described as doing a “freakish, kangaroo-like hop” three feet in the air when frightened. Their bodies are also said to absorb light at night so they’re nearly impossible to find after dark.
Although there are different species, be on the lookout for the American nine banded armadillo that’s about two and a half feet long from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail and weighs in about 12 pounds. They’re small but annoying.
The good news is they sleep about 16 hours a day and, when they’re awake, they eat a lot of bugs. They also hate cold weather so watch for them on our southern highways as they scurry south again when the temperature drops.