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Posts Tagged ‘armadillos’

Nine-banded Armadillo

Now, here’s something you may not have thought about, but they’re coming.

They colonized Texas and the Gulf Coast first. Then they were introduced to Florida. In recent decades, they’ve taken Arkansas, most of Missouri, and they are becoming more and more common in Illinois.

Now, I should state that this particular invader isn’t all that bad. It’s a relatively innocuous creature that eats mostly insects and occasionally scavenges when their invertebrate prey becomes scarce. About the worst thing you can say about them is that they sometimes dig up landscaped lawns.

The species I’m talking about is the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). Now, during the last Ice Age, a relative of this species lived in much of the central and eastern US. It was called the beautiful armadillo, and it was believed to have looked just like the nine-banded species, just significantly larger.

Twenty years ago, it was believed that the nine-banded armadillo would not expand its range into the northern half of Missouri.  Ten years before that, it was accepted wisdom that the armadillo would have never made it north of Arkansas. Today, we wonder exactly how much of Illinois they are going to colonize.

This species has been introduced to Florida, and from there, it has expanded its range as far north as South Carolina. It has already colonized much of East Tennessee, except for the higher elevations. I don’t know when my state will get them, but it’s just a matter of time until we do.

In fact, here is there projected range map:

Armadillo range

The area in red is where the nine-banded armadillo currently lives. The pink area is the projected range for the species.

Yes, there could armadillos on Cape Cod, in Manhattan, and in the leafy suburbs of Pittsburgh. If these animals were introduced to California, they would thrive in most of the state and then would expand their range northward up the Pacific Coast into British Columbia.

And if you thought Virginia opossums were the strangest animals around, wait ’til you get armadillos!

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