armadillo question

leslie123(Z8 WA)March 7, 2006

In the last few weeks, I've discovered an armadillo in my fenced yard. It looks like I've fenced him in.

I fenced my yard last January. ('05). I have 1.6 acres, about 1/3 un-mowed old cow pasture/meadow, 1/3 mowed yard, and 1/3 trees/bushes/brambles.

There isn't really room for him to go under the fence (unless he burrowed under, and I don't see evidence of this; I did find his burrow). I've seen him several nights, when I let the dogs out for their last potty before bed. The dogs think he's wonderful.

I'm worried that I've somehow fenced him in ... will this be enough room for him? Or her? If he was eating grass, I'd have no worry (I have plenty of that) but I'm not sure he'll have enough food. Should I try to relocate him outside the fence? How would I do that?

I'm making my yard a wildlife habitat, and I don't mind the fellow (he hasn't done any damage beyond rooting in the grass a bit; I don't care about golf-course green lawns anyway) but I don't want him trapped here.

Maybe if I just leave the gate open, he'll wander out?

Leslie

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

BeLIEVE me, you do not want him or her in your yard. They do NOT eat grass. Try to encourage him/her to vacate the premises. They typically use about ten acres to forage for their meals (they're pretty much carnivours).

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 8:20AM
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slowlane(7)

I love my armidillo, too--once I got used to him stomping around under my bedroom window at night! Mine seems to be actually useful. He's never hurt any of my plants, but he does "root round" the roots of some things eating bugs, I'm told. The plants seem to love it. He loves it. *I* love it--but my dog isn't as sure about the situation :P

My thinking is that, if he can dig a burrow, he can probably dig his way out from under the fence if he wants to. I'm about to have to fence my yead, too, and I'm considering leaving some critter passageways in the bottom; my dog's big, so she won't be able to get out, and I hate the idea of closing out ANY critters (well, except the two-legged kind :P

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 1:49PM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

Here is some information I found, which should ease worries about the threat of this wonderful, benign animal:

Nine-banded armadillo

Habitat

Members of this genus appear to prefer dense shady cover and limestone formations, from sea level to 3000 meters in elevation. They dig burrows from 0.5 to 3.5 meters deep and up to 7.5 meters long. Large nests of grass or leaves are often constructed in nest chambers within the burrow. D. novemcinctus has been observed to build nests outside of burrows, in clumps of saw palmetto, resembling small haystacks. They often share burrows with other armadillos, but not with members of the opposite sex.

Ecology

Armadillos in the genus Dasypus are primarily nocturnal, but occasionally forage in the daytime. They emit almost constant grunting noises while they are foraging. If they feel threatened, they hurry to a nearby burrow. If there is no burrow nearby, they curl up as much as possible to protect their soft undersides. The animals do not seem to feel threatened by humans. The diet consists primarily of animal matter, but is adaptable based on foraging conditions. In areas with little insect prey but large amounts of berries or other plant material, the nine-banded armadillo will readily switch to a more vegetarian diet. The armadillos forage for insects, spiders, and small amphibians; they predominately seem to prefer beetles and ants. They have been known to kill and eat young cottontail rabbits, and are also known to eat scraps of carrion. Although the nine-banded armadillo is often accused of eating the eggs and young of ground nesting birds such as quail, birds and their eggs make up less than 0.4% of the diet of an average armadillo. Nine-banded armadillos have a salivary bladder surrounded by skeletal muscle, unique among mammals. The salivary bladder acts as a reservoir for the thick, sticky saliva used to capture small insects. When the armadillo is feeding, the muscles around the salivary bladder contract, squeezing the stored saliva out onto the tongue. The average home range of 12 D. novemcinctus studied in Florida is 5.7 hectares (12.4 acres). Population densities in South America have been reported as high as 13 per square kilometer for D. novemcinctus. D. novemcinctus has been reported to be aggressive in high densities, and are frequently seen chasing or "boxing" one another by balancing on the hind legs and tails and striking out with the front claws. Adult males were more aggressive towards subadult males; lactating or pregnant females were aggressive towards young born the previous year.

Biology

Mating in North America takes place in July and August, but implantation of the zygote is delayed until November. The gestation period is 120 days. D. novemcinctus is unique in that four identical young are produced from a single egg, producing litters of four identical young (although occasionally only two to three or as many as six young have been found in a single litter). Young are born with their eyes open, are weaned at 4 5 months, and are sexually mature at about 1 year of age. Females have four mammae, one for each armadillo pup. The life span of D. novemcinctus is reported to be 12 to 15 years. D. novemcinctus is the only Xenarthran found in the United States. They are relatively recent arrivals, having expanded their range into Texas around 1880. D. novemcinctus was introduced into Florida deliberately in the 1920Âs. The nine-banded armadillo has expanded its range as far northwest as Colorado, and currently is also found in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. (For more information on the armadillo expansion into the United States, please see the Armadillo Expansion page.) Members of the genus Dasypus have been present in what is now the US intermittently for about one million years. The last animal of this genus to live in central North America was D. bellus, the beautiful armadillo, during the Pleistocene era, occupying basically the same range as D. novemcinctus does today. D. bellus is considered the historical counterpart of the nine-banded armadillo, as they are identical except for size. D. novemcinctus has been accused of destroying eggs, burrowing under foundations, and crop destruction. Members of the genus Dasypus are generally considered to be ecologically important due to their destruction of unwanted insects. Many other small animals use abandoned armadillo burrows as shelter. D. novemcinctus is easily tamed, but does not appear to do well in captivity. Due to the unique production of four identical young, weak immune system and relatively low body temperatures, D. novemcinctus has proven useful as a medical research test animal for diseases such as leprosy, typhus, and trichinosis, as well as for research on multiple births, organ transplants, and birth defects. Nine-banded armadillos carry relatively few parasites, despite the lack of a strong immune response. D. novemcinctus is particularly noted for its susceptibility to leprosy, both in laboratories and in the wild. D. novemcinctus is the most common armadillo held in zoos, especially in the US.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 10:45PM
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