The armadillo is a curious creature. It is armored, sleeps about 16 hours a day, and strongly prefers hot weather.
There are about twenty species of armadillo found worldwide. Of those twenty odd species, only one can be found in the United States: the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). These strange mammals (yes, mammals) were first reported in the U.S. in 1849. Their closest relatives in the animal kingdom (besides other ‘dillos) are sloths and anteaters. Adult nine-banded armadillos are about 2 feet long, weigh 8–17lbs, have a thick candy shell of true bone, and are arguably kinda cute.
All of the armadillo species have terrible eyesight but very keen senses of hearing and sound. Perhaps the most interesting thing about armadillos is the fact that they almost always give birth to identical quadruplets, which really just means that there’s gonna be four more critters out there to get rid of. When they are young, they drink their mother’s milk just like many other mammals do.
Armadillos, aside from being cute and quite ugly at the same time, can be quite destructive. Getting rid of armadillos should be a priority if you want to keep your yard and other environs in good shape. When looking for food, the armadillos use their extra sharp claws to dig up little holes in your yard. These dillo holes average 1–3 inches deep and 3–5 inches long. Even worse than that is when they decide your yard and beautiful landscaping look like nice places to live and raise a family. And so they burrow. A nine-banded armadillo burrow is usually about 7 or 8 inches across and can be 15 or more feet deep. This can pose a serious threat to the foundation of your home and cattle, as well as crack driveways or patios. So yeah, the urge to get rid of armadillos is well founded. For some ideas on how to do so, read on.
What do armadillos eat?
Armadillos eat any number of creepy crawlies, trash, plants, and even dead animals. They are truly omnivores.
One of the armadillo’s favorite meals is a grub. Oftentimes, the little holes found in yards are due to armadillos searching for them. It is suggested that Getting Rid of Grubs will help reduce armadillo damage to your yard. Remove the food source, and remove the pest!
A few of the other things armadillos love to eat include:
- Earthworms – The kind that like to live in the top 4 inches or so of soil — giving the armadillo another reason to dig.
- Fire Ants – In this respect, armadillos might be kind of good. Nobody wants fire ants around.
- Beetles – When armadillos are foraging in the evening, they are often looking for beetles that came out during the day.
- Scorpions – You and I don’t like to touch scorpions, but armadillos don’t mind them at all.
- Spiders – Like with beetles, armadillos find spiders that came out during the warmer daytime.
- Snakes – So would you rather have armadillos or snakes in your yard? For many, it is a toss-up!
- Frogs – Many of our readers want to know how to get rid of frogs. Armadillos are one way.
- Lizards – Lizards are pretty common in areas where armadillos are also common — namely, parts of the southern USA.
- Decaying animals – Armadillos have no problem being a scavenger. They compete with skunks and many types of birds for the aging remains of dead animals.
- Plants – On a brighter note, armadillos will eat plants when they need to, and there is usually ample plant food around.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Armadillos
This is by far the most effective thing you can do for armadillo control. It’s fairly straightforward, too. Get a live trap that measures at least 10″ x 12″ x 36″. The more traps you have the better. Place one near the opening of the burrow and place two long, 2″ x 6″ boards alongside the opening of the trap so that they form a “V.” This will funnel the armadillo into the trap. If trapping armadillos with more than one trap, put extras along armadillo pathways, like fences and buildings. Some people suggest stuffing earthworms into a nylon stocking and placing it in the trap for bait.
A live trap that we like is the Havahart trap. It comes in a couple sizes, and we recommend the larger one for armadillo control. You can purchase Havahart live traps from Amazon.
Now that you’ve got it, what do you do with it? I suggest taking it as far away from you as possible. Keep your armadillo in the trap, put it in the car, and get it out of there. Be nice, though. Drop it off in a place it will like, preferably somewhere with lots of cover near a water source. They’re not very territorial, so there shouldn’t be any disputes with other armadillos. Also, make sure you’re not giving your troubles to others by dropping it off at someone else’s house. That would be a cruel joke to play on someone!
Keep armadillos out
While this method is pretty labor intensive, it helps a lot. Put up a chain-link fence. Yes, it might make your backyard look more like a prison yard, but it might be worth it to you. When putting in the fence, you will want to make sure to bury the bottom of it at least 18″. The more the merrier. It also helps to put a ninety degree angle at the bottom of the fence so that it sticks out about a foot. Also, because dillos are good climbers, you will want the top foot of the fence to stick out at a forty degree angle. Razor wire optional.
Take matters into your own hands
Literally. I’m not suggesting that you do this, but some people simply chase the little jerks down and catch them by hand. If you do take this route, and again, I don’t suggest that you do, make sure to hold it well away from you (by the tail) when you catch it. Sharp claws. If you don’t want to use your hands, a good fishing net might work better for you. We do not endorse this method, and we don’t suggest you do it! We are just saying some people take this route.
Shoot the Armadillos
In the spirit of completeness, we have to note that you can shoot the armadillos. We understand that this is a personal choice, and if you feel uncomfortable around firearms, we completely understand.
Also, check your local laws to be sure you live in an area where discharging a firearm is lawful. And if you do, please, please use the firearm using all of the gun safety techniques that are universally accepted.
Armadillos are slow-moving animals, so if you can use a gun safely, are comfortable with it, and it is legal to do where you live, this is not a difficult hunt. It is best to do right at dusk, when the critters will be out feasting on whatever came out during the day.
Again, only use this method if you can use a firearm safely, and if discharging a gun is legal where you live.
Call in the professionals
This is simply a good idea. There are many people out there who make their living taking care of pests. And they’re good at it. Yeah, it’s gonna cost you some cash, but they’ll make sure it gets done right. That way there is no risk to you or yours. Just bear in mind that once you get rid of one armadillo, there’s a darn good chance that another one will eventually take its place and you’ll be on the phone again. But hey, you’ll also get to feel good about yourself for helping out a local business.
Natural Armadillo Control
It is often suggested that armadillos can be deterred by sprinkling cayenne pepper on the ground around your home and in your garden. It makes good sense considering their impressive sense of smell and the fact that they would be shoving their faces in the stuff. While some people experience good results with this method, others do not.
This method is about as natural as it gets. Check hunting stores for urine from critters, such as coyotes and big cats, and spread it around. Amazon also sells a container of Shake-Away for a decent price. Also, look for a product called Shake-Away. Again, reports on this method are mixed. Shoot us a line and let us know how it went for you.
Keep a Dog Outside
Speaking of predators, might as well go with the real thing. If you and your pooch don’t mind, keep the dog outside at night. If the smell of the dog alone doesn’t keep armadillos at bay, you may be able to count on your dog to chase offenders away. Just keep in mind that a barking dog could very well anger the neighbors.
All it takes is for a dog to come charging at an armadillo a couple times, and the critter will find a different place to find its food.
Armadillos and Leprosy
Believe me, I am not trying to scare you into getting rid of armadillos. In fact, it’s believed that around 95% of humans are naturally immune. Besides that, it’s not terribly contagious. I simply think that this is pretty interesting. In Texas and Louisiana, about 1 in 6 armadillos carry leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae). Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, thrives in humans in the cooler extremities of the body, such as hands, feet, noses, and ears. So it makes sense that armadillos would be ideal hosts. They have a relatively low body temperature (92–95 degrees F).
I am also not trying to tell you to be careless with armadillos. Although it is extremely rare, armadillos can carry the leprosy bacteria and potentially spread it to humans, especially if you handle them often or if you don’t cook them properly before eating them. According to an article I read by Suzanne Wilson in the Missouri Conservationist (a publication by the Missouri Department of Conservation), Dr. Arvind Dhople (a member of the International Leprosy Association, American Society for Microbiology, and the International Society for Infectious Diseases) estimates there are about 5–10 cases of Leprosy per year coming out of Texas and Louisiana that may be attributed to contact with armadillos. Because of their propensity for leprosy, armadillos are important study subjects for the disease and its cure.