The Nine-banded Armadillo is an interesting creature. It doesn’t even look like a mammal. If you find one that has been hit by a car you can see, amongst the armored plating, hairs spaced across the body. Armadillos are common victims of road kill because of their instinctive response when frightened to jump straight up 3-4 feet. While primarily nocturnal, armadillos are sometimes seen roaming in the middle of the day looking for food. When they find insects or other invertebrates, they crush them with their peg-like teeth. Armadillos do not have good eyesight or hearing, but their sense of smell makes up for it. A single animal can dig burrows up to 7 feet deep and 15 feet long with multiple entrances. They are solitary animals except when mating. They are prolific reproducers and almost always have quadruplets of the same sex in February or March.
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Nine-banded Armadillo © Harry Purcell
Armadillos are native to South America and worked their way into the American southwest and southeast. They probably reached the island via the bridges, but they are also good swimmers when need be. Armadillos can be found in various locations around the island. One bothersome fact about the armadillo is that they can carry leprosy. So don’t handle them.
Their tracks are one of the most common on the island. The front foot is about 1.8” long and 1.4” wide. You will see only four toes and claw marks may be seen. The two middle toes are longer. The hind foot has a similar pattern, but you will see five toes and they are about 2.2” long. Most tracks include the tail drag between the foot marks. The scat is roundish and not very long – about 2”.
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Armadillo © Lila Cox