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Armadillos!!!

We receive numerous calls every year from homeowners and turf managers regarding armadillo damage to their landscape.

Hot Springs, Ark. – We receive numerous calls every year from homeowners and turf managers regarding armadillo damage to their landscape.  Before discussing damage management methods, here is some basic biology of this curious animal. 

Armadillos forage by probing leaf litter and the soil surface with their snout to locate prey.  The majority of their diet includes invertebrates (beetles, ants, termites, millipedes, roaches, crickets, grasshoppers, earthworms, snails, slugs, larvae, etc.) that live in soil, leaf litter, and rotten wood. Minor food items include lizards, small snakes, salamanders, eggs, mushrooms and other fungi, and fruits. 

The young are born in a nest within the burrow.  The female produces only one litter each year in March or April after a 150-day gestation period. The litter always consists of quadruplets of the same sex.  The young are identical since they are derived from a single egg. 

Home ranges for adults reportedly vary from 8 to 27 acres. Armadillos usually dig several dens, up to 15 feet long, within their home range.  At least one den has a nest chamber, usually lined with vegetation.  Entrances to adults' tunnels are about 7 inches in diameter.  Armadillos are generally nocturnal during hot weather but diurnal (active during the day) in cold weather. 

Armadillos damage mostly lawns, golf courses, flower beds, and gardens by rooting in them.  They characteristically dig small, shallow holes to search for food, sometimes uprooting ornamental plants.  Skunks occasionally cause similar damage, which can be mistaken for that of armadillos. Damage is most intense to landscapes irrigated during drought:  the relatively soft, moist soil harbors more food than the surrounding sun-baked land. 

The armadillo has poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell.  In spite of its cumbersome appearance, the agile armadillo can run well when in danger.  It is a good swimmer and is also able to walk across the bottom of small streams. 

The most direct control method is shooting, since they are not a protected species.  This option may not be legal, safe, or socially acceptable in some suburban locations.  During summer, nocturnal activity patterns are unpredictable, which may require all-night vigils.  Various mesh-wire fencing designs can be effective, especially if they include a buried-wire portion.  However, the aesthetics and cost of a fence must be weighed against the damage incurred. 

Armadillos can be trapped in well-constructed box or cage traps.  Those that open at both ends (double-door) work best.  The use of "wings" to funnel armadillos to the trap opening is the key to success (see photo).  Wings can be made of whatever is handy, including lumber (e.g., 1" x 6"), mesh wire, and plastic fencing material.  Take advantage of existing barriers such as fencing, house walls, or curbing as well. Wing length is not critical, but the more travel routes excluded, the better. What kind of food or bait should you place in a live trap to catch armadillos? The answer may surprise you: NONE.  Using bait increases the chance of capturing non-target animals. A trap set in this manner does not need bait. 

Armadillos are known to carry the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, the causative agent of Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. Although the likelihood of contracting Hansen’s disease from trapping armadillos is low, take precautions such as wearing disposable gloves to further minimize this risk. Also disinfect the trap with diluted chlorine after use. 

Always check state and local game laws before trapping or shooting. The Arkansas Game & Fish Commission (www.agfc.com, 800-364-4263) has specific regulations about live trapping nuisance animals.

For more information go to our website www.uaex.edu and search “do-it-yourself nuisance wildlife solutions” or call our office at 501-623-6841.

 EHC Information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC call 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email jvincent@uaex.edu.

Master Gardeners

If you’re interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like more information, you’re welcome to attend their monthly meeting on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 1pm at the Elks Lodge.  You may also call the Extension office on 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email abates@uaex.edu.

4-H Information

We have several 4-H clubs for our Garland county youth who are 5 to 19 years old.  For more information on all the fun 4-H activities there are, call the Extension Office at 623-6841 or 922-4703 or email Linda Bates at lbates@uaex.edu

 

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  

By Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Allen Bates
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
abates@uaex.edu

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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