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Inviting the adorable nine-banded armadillo north
July 13, 2014 8:55 AM   Subscribe

An armored invasion is underway across the midwestern and eastern United States: Armadillos are moving into new territories once thought unsuitable for the warm-weather creatures. Sure, they're adorable as babies, they can leap 3 to 4 feet in the air, inflate themselves to float through the water or sink down and walk underwater for up to 6 minutes (as seen to a limited degree in this video from a kid's alphabet song, sorry about the music), and these ZeFrank true facts might persuade you to love them even more (somewhat NSFW). But keep in mind, Europeans pretty much invited them northwards -- as settlers, ranchers, and farmers spread southwest through the United States, they facilitated the invasion of D. novemcinctus by transforming the landscape into one that it would find both more accessible and more hospitable.
posted by filthy light thief (42 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh! We had an armadillo at the wildlife rehab center I volunteered at in Missouri! The center only tried to heal up native species, not exotic ones. I was like, "I didn't know armadillos were a native species this far north!" and the vet was like, "well, they are now."

Anyway, he smelled like a weird old man who lived in dirt. And looked like one, too, actually.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:04 AM on July 13 [7 favorites]


Oh good, now we can all get leprosy!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:07 AM on July 13 [6 favorites]


The armadillo line has moved north of my home town in middle Georgia during my lifetime. We used to only see them in south Georgia. I wouldn't be surprised to see them close to Atlanta in the next few years.
posted by Archer25 at 9:08 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


The armadillo line has moved...

This is the tagline for the inevitable SyFy Channel movie.
posted by Etrigan at 9:10 AM on July 13 [12 favorites]


Are these the tasty kind of armadillo? If so, their arrival may be a cause for celebration.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:11 AM on July 13


Hmmm ... Something managed to decapitate itself in my central air conditioning unit last night during a backyard party. Have they reached Connecticut yet?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:11 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


There was a fun This American Life segment about the joys and trials of having one as a pet.
posted by Mchelly at 9:15 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I was surprised to see an armadillo in Yellowstone last week, but maybe they have always been way up there? (it was hot as hell...)
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:18 AM on July 13


...walk underwater for up to 6 minutes (as seen to a limited degree in this video from a kid's alphabet song, sorry about the music)

The OP isn't kidding about the music in that video. It haunts my thoughts and yet I can't stop watching... but forget about me - - save yourselves!!!
posted by fairmettle at 9:24 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Good: They eat bugs, and they aerate your lawn for free. They also hop along like little Basset Hounds.

Bad: They eat endangered sea turtle eggs. No matter, we'll just loose a bunch of panthers on the beaches.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:27 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Oh gods, the thoughts of seeing armadillo corpses on the Atlanta roads is just so surreal. I can't wait to see people who have no clue what they are freaking out and calling the cops about them, too.

Also, the chance of getting leprosy from an armadillo is actually pretty low, per the CDC, but it has been confirmed to happen, so it isnt a zero chance.
posted by strixus at 9:34 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


> I wouldn't be surprised to see them close to Atlanta in the next few years.

Y'all can see them in Athens right now.
posted by jfuller at 9:37 AM on July 13


Given leprosy's deeply historical bad press, the good news is that, per the CDC,
Hansen's disease is easily treatable. It’s treated for 6 months to 2 years with a combination of antibiotics.
the stigma around Hansen's Disease prevents people seeking treatment, and UN-treated it's a problem.
posted by Jesse the K at 9:41 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


> I wouldn't be surprised to see them close to Atlanta in the next few years.

Y'all can see them in Athens right now.


So you're saying that armadillos aren't quite mainstream yet?
posted by Etrigan at 9:42 AM on July 13 [29 favorites]


All sorts of new fodder for penis research!
posted by ChuraChura at 9:53 AM on July 13


Emerson, Lake and Palmer predicted many years ago.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:02 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Mchelly: There was a fun This American Life segment about the joys and trials of having one as a pet.

You and I have dramatically different ideas about fun.

Warning: that segment describes an owner who periodically would get depressed and attempt to slowly asphyxiate his pet.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:10 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, we have opossums in Canada now.

I predict sloths by 2050.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:12 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Armadillos are kind of boring when it's just one (I see them almost daily, mind you), but occasionally I'll see a pair of them nosing about. The best part about that is that it's almost literally the blind leading the blind, as one tends to excitedly follow the other one around even though that other one doesn't have a damn clue, so they just kind of randomly skitter about.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:40 AM on July 13


Meanwhile, we have opossums in Canada now.

There were opossums in Canada at least 20 years ago. I saw one playing dead on the side of the road in Guelph, Ontario. He was very convincing due to the blood everywhere. My friends wouldn't believe me so I actually dragged a group of them out to see some roadkill. Good times.
posted by srboisvert at 11:06 AM on July 13


Fun fact#14: Armadillos take weeks to decompose on the side of the road. Dead opossum? It'll be gone in a couple weeks. See a dead armadillo in June? Look for it in August. Yuck. Someone arm the groundhogs.
posted by Atreides at 11:14 AM on July 13


Meanwhile, we have opossums in Canada now.

I just took a look at some range maps of opossums, and they must be mostly out of date because they don't show presence in places I have seen them myself. They do really well in urbanized areas, so I'd expect to see them anywhere there are people and the winters are within their tolerance.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:14 AM on July 13


I was surprised to see an armadillo in Yellowstone last week, but maybe they have always been way up there? (it was hot as hell...)

That would be very surprising... I don't believe there's been a recorded occurrence of armadillo in Wyoming (or Colorado, for that matter).
posted by one_bean at 11:16 AM on July 13


Hansen's disease is easily treatable. It’s treated for 6 months to 2 years with a combination of antibiotics.

A) That's an awfully long time to be on antibiotics.
B) At what point will the antibiotics stop working.
posted by winna at 11:16 AM on July 13


I've had a front row seat to watch this since the 1970s. I live in Georgia but traveled to Texas to visit relatives and to Florida for vacations and so have crisscrossed the territory in question for roughly 4 decades. In the early 70s you might see a road kill armadillo in south Georgia near the Florida line or in Texas near the gulf coast, but it was unusual enough that someone might comment "Hey! That looks like an armadillo!"

Then in the 80s and 90s you started seeing armadillos more commonly and further north. I live near Augusta, GA (on the fall line) and the once exotic armadillo is now ubiquitous. I may see 3 or 4 on the road driving in to work, and routinely see them foraging in the woods around my house if I happen to be out at night. They were unusual as late as 1998, when I moved to my current location. Ecology in action!

Are these the tasty kind of armadillo?

Do you mean 'possum on the half shell, as they are known to some?
posted by TedW at 11:56 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Also, it is my understanding (from ambitious 70s prog rock) that only manticores can stop them.
posted by TedW at 11:59 AM on July 13


A) That's an awfully long time to be on antibiotics.
B) At what point will the antibiotics stop working.
Hold it, so you're saying I shouldn't be rubbing up against all these armadillos?
posted by mph at 12:27 PM on July 13


Texas Speed Bump.
posted by 445supermag at 1:03 PM on July 13


> "Hold it, so you're saying I shouldn't be rubbing up against all these armadillos?"

Might as well keep at it. They're gonna find out eventually. (Possibly NSFW.)
posted by kyrademon at 1:21 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


You and I have dramatically different ideas about fun.

OMG - I last listened to that episode a few years ago - I remembered the armadillo chewing through everything but had blocked out the violent parts. Mods, would love it if you could remove the word "fun" from my previous comment.
posted by Mchelly at 1:46 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Recently, on a cross country road trip, I saw two dead armadillos. One in Missouri and ine in some other weird place like Tennessee. Was weird.
posted by Windopaene at 2:45 PM on July 13


fairmettle: The OP isn't kidding about the music in that video. It haunts my thoughts and yet I can't stop watching... but forget about me - - save yourselves!!!

Really I am sorry about that video, but it was the only good source of a video of armadillos jumping. The other ones I found were grainy video of dudes shooting at armadillos, which is not something I wanted to support or condone, unless they've become that level of a pest (or they're good eating, and you intend to eat them, but I digress).

So I was left linking to that animal alphabet video, which is what lead to this whole post in the first place. I saw them swim and jumping, and I said "no way! That's fantastic!" So I looked for more videos, and instead found information about the armadillo invasion, and no more really good videos (beyond ZeFrank's video).

And here we are, with armadillo penises and leprosy. Or something.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on July 13


They're north of Springfield, MO, but haven't quite made it to Kansas City.
posted by scruss at 3:52 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


> I may see 3 or 4 on the road driving in to work,

Armadillos are much more loveble than possums but it looks like they're going to give possums stiff competition for dumbest.

> They do really well in urbanized areas

When they "aerate your lawn" digging for grubs and so on they leave holes as big around as an armadillo and at least half as deep as one is long. That's not good for cows, who step in the holes and fall over and break their legs. But if urban armadillos are able to do that in concrete I will consider them wonderful new neighbors.
posted by jfuller at 4:13 PM on July 13


Armadillos are much more loveble than possums but it looks like they're going to give possums stiff competition for dumbest.

Opossums get points alone for being marsupials in North America. They're pretty awesome.
posted by Atreides at 4:34 PM on July 13


Actually, one common medication used for treating Hansen's Disease is Thalidomide.
posted by carping demon at 7:47 PM on July 13


That habit of leaping up in fright is what makes them such consistent roadkill. They leap right into the undercarriage when otherwise they might just be passed over. It's a pretty horrid sound, hearing an armadillo commit involuntary suicide.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:02 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


And here we are, with armadillo penises and leprosy.

Speak for yourself.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:23 PM on July 13


Late one night, a few weeks after my next-door neighbors had been robbed, I heard a noise. My porch light was out, it was the dead of night, my dog was barking her head off, and I could hear something shuffling around in my front yard. When the cops had informed me about the break-in and asked if I'd seen anything, they encouraged me to call right away if I even only thought anything was going on. So I did.

When the police arrived I saw their flashlight beams bobbing around in the darkness, then came the knock on my door.

"Y'said you saw a prowler?" the cop asked.

"I only heard it," I said. "So did my dog." (She gave a big Boxer woof from inside.)

"Well, there's yer suspect," the cop said, and he and his partner trained their lights on the biggest goddamn armadillo I have ever seen. It fumbled around confused in the thick leaf-litter, blinded by all that light.

I started apologizing and laughing - oh god I'm sorry I'm an idiot my dog's an idiot I didn't see the damn thing - and then.

The cop said, perfectly deadpan, "I don't think we need to take him downtown, ma'am."
posted by cmyk at 9:57 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


IAmBroom and Mchelly, it's okay! There is a disclaimer at the end of the American Life segment. It's fiction.

I was relived too. The whole "I tried to drown my pet because I was so depressed about my brother's death" really unnerved me too.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 12:14 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Thank you, suburbanbeatnik. I must have turned it off before then; gave up entirely on that program when they did stories on Christmas suicides for their CHRISTMAS SHOW.

Not funny, you sick bastards.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:18 AM on July 14


Armadillos have made it as far north at central Illinois, but probably not permanent year-round residents yet. I have a range map on my website showing predicted expansion possibilities from a 1996 paper; the authors recently contacted me to state they were working on an updated version of the armadillo range. Hopefully will be published soon.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:35 AM on July 15


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