Friday, May 8, 2015


The nine-banded armadillo is an interesting mammal, with an appearance looking very much tank-like if you can conceive of one approximately a foot and a half long. It mostly lives on grubs and insects such as beetles, ants, and termites. However, they dig up a lot of ground, and can be damaging to crops.

A unique feature of them is that the female armadillo usually gives birth to identical quadtruplets, a feature that can be useful in genetic research. There are only two mammalian species that carry Hansen's disease (leprosy): humans and armadillos. Approximately 20% of armadillos carry the bacillus for Hansen's disease, and it is a vector for Hansen's disease in humans. It is also a possible source of Chagas disease.

The armadillo's original range was South America; but with the opening of the land bridge between South and North America in the Cenozoic era, this expanded their range. Presently they are in the Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the Southern states as far as the Atlantic Ocean. Potentially, they may migrate into North Carolina, Virginia, most of Pennsylvania, and even possibly coastal New York and Connecticut. Imagine armadillos in Central Park or on the White House lawn! That could disrupt the annual Easter egg roll.

On the other hand, don't look for armadillos to infiltrate the coffee houses of Seattle or run amok on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The outward appearance of armadillos is somewhat comical. It is surprising that there has not been an armadillo cartoon. I was able to find one children's story book about a multi-hued armadillo. Apparently he was leading a life as a hobo. Or maybe he was one of those armadillos destined to be pioneers in the Empire or Keystone states!

What about using an armadillo as a college mascot? Unfortunately, there is a surfeit of institutions who use iconic animals such as bears, lions, and tigers as mascots; and some with regional ones: catamounts, gators, wolverines. But none has adopted the armadillo, even though it could be seen as a fertility symbol. However, the official mascot for last year's FIFA World Cup Tournament was a grotesquely unrealistic armadillo named Fuleco! This mascot could in no way be seen as a inspiration for lovemaking!

These should be placed in the same category as racoons and possums: interesting to look at but not to touch.


Linda Kay said...

Hmmmm...can't imagine what prompted this very interesting reflection on armadillos. You missed our local mascot...a billy goat! We see lots of these armadillo critters as road kill, and you are right about their destructive habits!

TexWisGirl said...

i think they used an armadillo as the mascot in the movie 'unnecessary roughness'. i know not to touch them when my dogs find a carcass or part of one. but i also thought that the footpads of mice also carried the disease which could lead to leprosy.

Mike said...

I haven't seen one here in St. Louis but it seems their migration will bring them here eventually.

Cloudia said...

fun romp with the little armored ones!

ALOHA from Honolulu,

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

We got them in Lauderdale County. And coyotes!

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Oh - so no armadillo barbeque!
What a drag; they look like they'd be crunchy.

Bilbo said...

The armadillo might make a good mascot for an Army tank unit, just as the hedgehog was used for a time (not sure if it still is) as an advertising symbol for the German Bundeswehr (army). Both the hedgehog and the armadillo appear in one of the classic "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling called "The Birth of the Armadillo" ( My mother used to read that story about "stickly-prickly" and "slow, solid" to us many years ago.

Bill said...

Years ago it was common to see them as Florida road kill. But rarely now so I assumed there were fewer of them. Had no idea they were migrating north. Enjoyed the post.