Critter of the Month: Nine-Banded Armadillo
Armadillos are one of the most unique looking critters out there. These animals are covered in silver, armor-like plates that protect them. The word “armadillo” actually means “little armored one” in Spanish!
There are over 20 different species of armadillos, with most of them living in Central and South America. The nine-banded armadillo is the only species found in Mississippi and in the United States. These critters normally have one litter of young each spring. In each litter, there is always four offspring of the same sex because they come from the same egg!
While you might think that all armadillos can curl up in a ball as a form of self-defense, that’s actually not true! Only one armadillo species can do that, and it’s not the nine-banded armadillo. Instead, it often jumps in the air when startled. One of the armadillo’s biggest weaknesses is its poor eyesight. When they are out at night, they are unable to see cars heading their direction until it’s too late. Their defense mechanism of jumping also doesn’t bode well as it leads them to jump up into the undercarriage of the vehicle passing over the top of them.
Armadillos are primarily nocturnal and crepuscular (dawn and sunset), meaning they are most active at night. Armadillos are known for digging up grass, flower beds, and vegetable gardens in search for insects to eat. They also build burrows underground for shelter. This can be quite annoying to homeowners. Setting out traps baited with spoiled fruit in the area can be effective at catching armadillos so they can be removed from the area.
The nine-banded armadillo generally stays to itself and does not interact with humans. If you encounter an armadillo, remember to keep your distance as it is a wild animal. For any further assistance or advice, contact your local animal control. Want more information on this critter? University of Georgia Extension has a thorough profile on the nine-banded armadillo.
Subscribe to Extension for Real Life
Fill in the information below to receive a weekly update of our blog posts.