It’s too big to be a rodent, but it’s not a raccoon or possum. What could it be digging up your yard or garden? If you are in the southeast part of the United States, one possibility—if you have ruled out your own dog—is the armadillo. Although these small mammals have a cult-like following in some parts of the country, armadillos can cause real damage by digging shallow holes all across your property in search of food, uprooting your ornamental plants and even waking you up in the middle of the night as they rub their shells against your home. As with most other types of pests, taking the time to learn more about the animal, what attracts them to your yard and what risks they pose helps better understand how to get rid of armadillos.
How to Get Rid of Armadillos
The armadillo made its way to the United States from South America a little over a century ago. Since then, the animal’s range has expanded north, all the way up to Kansas. Armadillos have shown themselves to be very adaptable, with few natural predators and the ability to survive under a variety of conditions. More homeowners are coming into contact with armadillos and falling victim to the damage they can cause, particularly in outdoor spaces. Let’s explore some different ways to discourage armadillos from entering your yard.
Before we explore how to scare away armadillos, we should point out some interesting facts about these creatures. First all, although there are 20 varieties of armadillo, only the nine-banded armadillo is found in North America. These prehistoric-looking mammals live in warm temperate climates because of their low metabolism and lack of fat, making finding armadillos in Texas and other southern states relatively easy. Most armadillos dig burrows and sleep for up to 16 hours per day, foraging in the early morning and evening for beetles, ants, termites and other insects. Although armadillos have poor eyesight, they have a keen sense of smell that they use to hunt. Armadillos’ long sticky tongues aid the animals in extracting ants, termites and other food from the tunnels they dig.
What Attracts Armadillos?
Like most other animals, armadillos wander into your yard searching for food and shelter. Aside from insects and their larvae, which make up 90% of the animal’s diet, armadillos also eat small vertebrates, plants and some fruits. If you have ant piles or fallen fruit from your trees, this may be what’s encouraging armadillos to visit your backyard. Although armadillos can leave cone-shaped pits across your yard in their quest for insects and other bugs, the benefit is that the animals are most likely feasting on the very pests which are feeding on your plants, including grubs which are harmful to your grass roots.
Something else to note is that armadillos love to burrow in places with ample protection, so if you have a deck or heavy shrubbery, this could be a perfect spot for them to stay safe from predators.
Do Armadillos Bite?
The nine-banded armadillo belongs to a primitive order of mammals called Endentata, which means “toothless.” However, this is a misnomer, as armadillos do, in fact, have several dozen teeth. The only way to get a real glimpse of an armadillo’s teeth is when its mouths are fully open, so that might explain why armadillos were once considered toothless. Armadillos have not been known to bite people. Their tiny mouths with peg-like molars would make it difficult for them bite a human. That said, as with other wild animals, it’s best to play it safe and keep clear of these armored creatures should you come close to one.
Although armadillos don’t bite, they are the only animals—other than humans—that can contract a disfiguring disease known as leprosy. Although the risk of transmission to humans is low, the impact of the disease is quite significant and can cause skin sores, nerve damage and muscle weakness that increases over time.
Armadillo Control Tips
Whether they are looking for their next meal or place to hide, armadillos are most destructive when digging. You’ll be able to spot damage from armadillos by searching for holes around your lawn and next to or underneath structures like sidewalks of decks. Armadillo holes tend to be a few inches deep and three to five inches wide. Once you can tell where armadillos are on your property, you can begin to take steps to deter them from hanging around.
When dealing with armadillos on your property, it’s best to remember why they are coming to your yard in the first place: food and shelter. There are some steps you can take to get rid of them on your own:
- Removing hiding spots. Since armadillos prefer dense, shady habitats, clear overgrowth to discourage them from becoming established.
- Control insects in your yard. The best form of armadillo repellent is reducing their food sources in your outdoor spaces. Pick up any fallen fruit immediately if you have fruit trees, as this could trigger the armadillo’s strong sense of smell and guide them directly to your home. Applying soil insecticides can make your lawn less attractive to armadillos.
- Installing fencing. Although armadillos can burrow and climb, fencing can help keep armadillos away, especially if part of the fence is buried and the fence is placed at a 40 degree angle, making it difficult to scale.
- Relocating animals. By trapping individuals, you can relocate armadillos away from your property and prevent them from reproducing nearby. The best type of traps for armadillos has the ability to open at both ends.
Whatever The Pest, ABC Can Help
Your yard is a virtual buffet for armadillos, so getting them off your property and keeping them out for good can be a challenge. Trust the experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services to come up with a practical treatment plan that is customized for your home. Our technicians can take of your pest problems so that you can enjoy your outdoor spaces without worrying about damage from uninvited animal guests.