Thomasville Times Enterprise


April 24, 2014

Armadillos interesting creatures

THOMASVILLE — Anything related to wildlife control is always interesting and certainly proves to be a challenge.

This week, I was asked about something digging up the garden at night. Folks are talking about large holes around shrubs and at the edge of houses and in gardens. This of course was an armadillo.

UGA Extension's Urban Ag Outreach Coordinator and former Decatur County Agent, Willie Chance, says it best about armadillos.

The armadillo is an interesting creature. It has been adopted as the state mascot in Texas. Armadillo means 'little armored one' — a name contributed by the Indians. These interesting creatures have protective horn-like armor on their head, body and tail. It is designed in rings so that it is flexible. The head is small with a long, narrow pig-like snout. The foot is three toed and has sharp claws for digging. Our armadillos are the size of a opossum — sometimes called 'possum on the half shell'.

Though their legs are short, they can run fairly quickly and are excellent diggers. They mainly eat insects and excavation is how they feed and make their homes. They are most active twilight to early morning and can leave several holes in a lawn in one visit.

How did they get here? They appear to be very adaptable. They travel on foot, swim and even walk along the bottoms of small streams. The female bears live young in a burrow seven to eight inches wide and up to 15 feet in length. Burrows are located in rock piles, around stumps or brush piles or near brush or dense woods. She produces one litter each year in March or April. Surprisingly, they are always quadruplets of the same sex, all coming from one egg.

Enough biology.  So, how do we get rid of them? This may be one pest we learn to live with. They are not easy to catch or discourage. Use live traps —  the heavy, wire, box type that opens on both ends.  Put 'wings' on the trap. Use two six-foot long shelf boards set up on end and attached to the mouth of the trap. These will be angled outward to direct the armadillo into the trap.

Try to put the far end of one of these boards up against a wall or fence to funnel the armadillo into the trap. The best traps are those that open on each end but others may work. Do not bait the traps. We know of no baits that attract them any better than an empty trap.

Shooting in the evening or at night is effective but should only be used where it is completely safe, legal and will not disturb neighbors.

Since they eat insects, you may consider treating your lawn or flower beds with a soil insecticide to reduce insect numbers. This still may not work well since this will not kill all bugs and is expensive. Clean up brushy areas where armadillos hide.

The best suggestion is try to live with them.( I know you didn't want to read that.) You can fence certain areas, consider having a dog to run them off, or just enjoy having a little more wild life in your yard.

Considering their life style, they are very interesting and could make a great wild life study. Of course, they would probably be more interesting if they did not dig so much.

For additional information, contact the Thomas County Extension Office at 225-4130.

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