Armadill-Dumbfounded: The History and Migration of The Nine-Banded Armadillo

If you are like me, you have probably noticed an influx of Armadillos from seemingly nowhere. Unfortunately, unless you go deliberately looking for one, odds are you will see one as roadkill, mostly on or by the highway. But what has caused these Armadillos to migrate to other states, and is what the history of these intriguing mammals?

Let’s start with some history, the nine banded armadillo, the only armadillo species in north america, its ancestors originated in South America, and remained there until the formation of the Isthmus of Panama allowed them to enter North America as part of the Great American Interchange. The nine-banded armadillo is a solitary, mainly nocturnal animal, found in many kinds of habitats, from mature and secondary rainforests to grassland and dry scrub. It is an insectivore, feeding chiefly on ants, termites, and other small invertebrates. The most standout trait of the armadillo is its shell, the outer shell is composed of ossified dermal scutes covered by nonoverlapping, keratinized epidermal scales, which are connected by flexible bands of skin. The nine-banded armadillo also has claws, which are primarily used for digging, but can also be used for self defense if the need arises. Probably the most startling trait, and also the most detrimental to the armadillo is its ability to jump. When sufficiently startled, the nine-banded armadillo can jump 3-4 feet in the air. This would be quite useful in a situation where the armadillo is being threatened by a predator, unfortunately this reflex is mostly exhibited when the armadillo is approached by a car, leading to the rise of armadillo corpses on the side of the road.

As of lately, the nine-banded armadillo has been increasing in number in states where normally the sighting of one is quite rare. The armadillo was normally confined to Texas and states around that region, such as Oklahoma and Louisiana. Seeing the migration of these animals, who normally favor a hotter environment, was quite strange. Those paying attention to the phenomena tried to find an answer, and two answers are usually thrown around. The first one is climate change, scientists say warmer winters have lured the mammals northward, which could have an impact on those communities. Armadillos are diggers, and have been wreaking havoc on backyards all across their original region. Armadillos have also been known to carry leprosy, migration could cause spread of the disease to other animals and possibly even to humans. The second answer that is in the loop is lack of natural predators. Moving north the armadillos are moving away from some of their predators,allowing them to freely roam and breed as much as they want.

Nine-banded armadillos are quite the interesting creature and it is clear that they are here to stay. The migration of these creatures is not as much of a problem compared to other wildlife crisis, but if left unchecked it could spiral out of hand. Next time you are out driving and get the chance to see one just remember, the shell isn’t invincible.


About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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