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Armadillos: Thanks a Lot, Texas


December 10, 2011 by Annie McCormick

Of course it’s not Texas’ fault. Armadillos have been around in legend since the ancient Mayans. Their prehistoric relatives were supposedly the size of a VW Beetle.

The ones you see on the highways upside down with a beer can clutched between their paws are of the “Nine Banded” species. They arrived in various ways, mostly due to humans who unwittingly transported them in wagons and on ships. Some escaped from Florida zoos and traveling circuses. Now they’re in my front yard.

I’ve been seeing small holes that were obviously dug by a creature of some sort. Cats having been ruled out; I cursed my dogs, but my dogs aren’t diggers unless they’re after voles. I hopped onto the Internet and lo-and -behold: pictures of armadillo holes just like mine, where they‘ve been digging for grubs.

Sightings get farther north with every passing year. Although they do swim, most of them were brought across the Rio Grande by people, for food. Since they aren’t productive members of society, maybe we can categorize them as illegal aliens and send them back to Mexico? Probably not. They’d have to be driven back to Central America. I’ve read that they normally stay in one place unless their population gets too high. Arkansas turned into their suburbs.

’Dillos aren’t hunted for food now since they have little natural immunity to Hansen’s disease: leprosy. I don’t think I would eat chocolate cake if there was a danger of getting leprosy. On the upside, they are good test subjects for Hansen’s disease research. Score one point for the armadillo.

There isn’t an easy answer to getting rid of them. The female will give birth to identical quadruplets (quadro-moms) each spring. Armadillos have a 20-year lifespan; much shorter if they live by a highway. So, I’m thinking, if the ‘dillo in my yard stays for 10 years and has quads each year and those quads have quads … I may have to move to North Dakota to be free of them. They don’t like the cold but neither do I.

Dogs are a deterrent but then there’s the leprosy thing. They can be trapped but first you need to know where they walk around at night. No problem here, the holes are everywhere. I’ll just need a hundred traps.

Texas has embraced the critters in many ways. A German immigrant in Texas found, by accident, that an armadillo hit by a rock curls up in the form of a basket. His resulting curio business lasted until about 1971 making everything from purses to chandeliers and, of course, baskets. Armadillo likenesses are popular on Texas souvenirs. Armadillo races were popular during the 70s, probably fueled by state pride and Lone Star beer. No doubt, Texans take their ’dillos seriously. In the 70s, Texas legislature declined to make it the official state mammal but was declared the official mascot in 1981.

​​These illegal aliens are not here to take our jobs. The only job they could do is ​aerate golf courses and they make a real mess of that.

Hey, Herman, how about a three-foot-high, non-electric fence at the border?


1 comment »

  1. KIM DOMOVICH says:

    i recall an armadillo red velvet groomscake in ‘steel magnolias’. like gulls and pigeons are called rats with wings, maybe dillos are rats with armor. man you get all the cool pests, here in AZ our pests are stingy and pokey and crawly and slithery.

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