NCWRC Asks Public to Report Armadillo Sightings to Assess Species Expansion
Anyone laying eyes on an armadillo for the first time might be taken aback by their unique and prehistoric appearance. Going by nicknames like “tactical possum” and “pocket dinosaur”, the armadillo visually appears to be as alien as wildlife can get, particularly in North Carolina.
With thick leathery skin, a tapered – and often bearded – face, and an armored exterior that they can retreat into when threatened, armadillos are hard to mistake. A natural forager with poor eyesight but an impeccable sense of smell, armadillos are known for mottling backyards with holes in efforts to find grubs, beetles and worms.
As burrowing animals, armadillos prefer landscapes with clay or sandy soils, where they will dig between five and twelve burrows within their territory to provide a quick and easy hideaway from predators such as bears, coyotes, and feral hogs. Though their armor is meant to protect them from predators, it develops its hardness with age, leaving young armadillos with little to protect themselves – save for a defensive anal secretion that can deter some predators.
Armadillos are known for their tendency to be infected with leprosy. However, the NCRWC says that the percentage of armadillos carrying leprosy is low, at between 0% and 10% of the population.
Originating in South and Central America, the armadillo has little fur or body fat, meaning it does not acclimate well to climates with low and freezing temperatures. However, as a result of climate change, rising temperatures are encouraging the north-ward expansion of the armadillo population up through the continental United States, with a large – and relatively new – presence now in North Carolina. But experts are still lacking a clear picture of the species’ range.
Which is why the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) is asking for your help. As a part of the NC Armadillo Project, the NCWRC is asking that all nine-banded armadillo sightings be reported to [email protected], including:
- A photo of the armadillo (if possible)
- When it was observed (date and time)
- The location where it was observed (GPS coordinates or detailed location description)
Reported sightings will be tallied and mapped, and will contribute to providing an accurate assessment of species management needs.
– Written by Bates Whitaker, NCWF Communications & Marketing Manager