Wild Woman: Armadillos in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission's Watchable Wildlife Coordinator is telling us all about armadillos.

Kirsten Bartlow shares the following information:

Have we always had armadillos is Arkansas? 
The nine-banded armadillo is one of the state's most unusual mammals, and it's the most recent arrival. Armadillos evolved in South and Central America. It's wandered farther and farther north and east during the past several hundred years. No one is certain how long the nine banded armadillo has lived in Arkansas. The first recorded armadillo report dates back to 1921. It now occurs in every county. However, the armadillo's tropical roots show in its poor tolerance for cold. Arkansas' occasional hard winters prevent its becoming numerous in the northern half of the state. 

Why are armadillos digging up my yard and what can I do about it? 
Armadillos dig shallow holes in search of food, grunting like piglets all the while. They also dig burrows for protections. Armadillos are often blamed for declines in quail populations, but studies show that 90 percent of their diet consists of invertebrates, such as insects, earthworms, grubs, termites, spiders and crayfish. Armadillos are nocturnal during the summer, spending the hot daylight hours in burrows and coming out in the cool nighttime to search for food. During winter, they reverse this pattern to take advantage of daytime warmth. Armadillos that are causing damage to your property can be shot and trapped year round. A depredation permit from the AGFC is needed to shoot them at night. Be sure to check city's ordinances. 

Interesting Facts: 
  • The armadillo is the only North American mammal with a covering of hard, bony plates. 
  • The female produces one litter of identical quadruplets each year in March or April. The young are identical since they are derived from a single egg that splits four ways. 
  • When startled, they jump straight up in the air, then scurry into the nearest burrow. 
  • It is capable of floating across rivers by inflating its intestines, or by sinking and running across riverbeds. It can hold its breath for up to six minutes, an adaptation originally developed for allowing the animal to keep its snout submerged in soil for extended periods while foraging. 
  • Armadillos do carry leprosy and care should be used when dealing with a carcass of one (i.e. wear gloves and wash up afterwards).

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