Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Armadillo




I lived in the DFW area in the early eighties for two years and never once saw a live armadillo. We moved to Houston in ’05 and it took another two years before I saw a live one. It had gotten to be a joke that some fairies just put dead ones out in the middle of the night to find in the morning.

The eyesight on these guys is so bad that I was able to photograph one with out being noticed from about 2′ away. They seem to have little fear of humans if you don’t startle them.

There are many kinds of armadillos, which are mammals, and their closest living relatives are sloths and anteaters. In the United States we have the 9 banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus ). It is the only known mammal to give birth to four and always four identical, same sexed, quadruplets. Gestation is about 150 days. Birth usually occurs in March or April. The life span of the armadillo can be as long as 15 years. Armadillo adults weigh between 8 to 17 pounds.

While mostly nocturnal they can occasionally be found looking for food during the day, especially in colder weather.  They prefer shady areas dense in trees and brush that are close to water supplies.  They also prefer areas with loose, loamy soils.

Armadillos can move fast when needed and can also swim or walk across shallow streams.

Gardeners know them from the damage they wreck in the garden while we sleep. If you wake up to find your garden roto-tilled a few inches deep, it was likely an armadillo. They are looking for grubs and other tasty insects in your garden. 90% of the diet of an armadillo is insects, including earth worms.  Occasionally they will eat berries, vegetables, soft roots or eggs.

To keep them out of your garden you need a strong fence buried several inches below ground level, and angled at about 40′ since they can climb, or more easily mulch. Armadillos tend not to like the smell of mulch. So fresh layers of mulch do more than hold water in your soil.

If you are looking to trap an armadillo you’ll need a trap about 10″x12″x32″.  Traps are best set along pathways to armadillo burrows.  Traps open at both ends do not need bait, rotting fruit is best in traps that must be baited.

Armadillos can carry the bacteria for leprosy, so you should handle them and areas they occupy with care.

See also:
Armadillo online