The armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is a rather interesting and unusual animal in that it does not have a body covering of hair or fur. Instead, the body is covered with a protective shell of bony armor. There are nine movable bands across the back, and the tail is covered with a series of overlapping rings. The underparts are covered with soft skin and a few long hairs.

The armadillo is about the size of an opossum. Its front feet are well adapted for digging. Tracks made by an armadillo appear to have been made by a three-toed animal. Armadillos have poor eyesight, but a keen sense of smell. In spite of their cumbersome appearance, armadillos can run fast when in danger. They also are good swimmers and can walk across the bottoms of small streams.

Armadillos are active primarily from twilight hours through early morning hours in the summer. In the winter they may be active only during the day. Armadillos are burrowing animals. Their burrows are usually 7 or 8 inches in diameter and up to 15 feet in length. Burrows are most commonly located in rock piles or around stumps, brush piles, etc. Armadillos dig a number of burrows within an area to use for escape. More than 90 percent of the armadillo’s diet is insect matter. They also feed on earthworms, scorpions, spiders and other invertebrates, as well as on small amounts of fruit and vegetable matter such as berries and tender roots.

Damage

Although armadillos are beneficial because they eat insects and other invertebrates, they sometimes become a nuisance by digging in lawns, golf courses, vegetable gardens and flower beds. Some damage has been caused by their burrowing under foundations, driveways and other structures.

Disease is another factor that must be considered when evaluating armadillo damage. Armadillos can be infected by an organism that is thought to be the human leprosy bacterium.

Although armadillos occasionally destroy the nests of ground-nesting birds in their search for food, there is some disagreement as to whether or not they actually eat the eggs. When armadillos cause damage, they may need to be controlled.

Control Methods

Trapping: Cage trapping is an effective way to capture armadillos, although they can sometimes be difficult to catch because they are so unpredictable. Traps should be placed in trails near fences or beside buildings. If the burrow is located, the trap should be placed at the entrance. Trapping can sometimes be more effective if two long boards are used on either side of the trap to funnel the animal into it. If the trap is placed next to a building, only one board is needed. It is not usually necessary to bait the traps when funnels are used. If bait is desired, overripe or spoiled fruit works well because it attracts flies and other insects. Other suggested baits are earthworms or fishing worms secured in a nylon stocking. Cage traps with dimensions of at least 10 x 12 x 36 inches are adequate. Commercially made cage traps are available at many hardware or sporting good or Feed stores.

Chemical Control: At the present time, there are no fumigants, toxicants or repellents registered for the control of armadillos. However, since most of the damage armadillos cause is a result of their digging for insects and other invertebrates in the soil, an insecticide can be used to make the area less attractive to armadillos. Once the food source is eliminated, the animals will usually go elsewhere to search for food. However, before leaving the area, the armadillos may increase their digging in search of food, thereby increasing the damage to turf or garden areas.

Cultural Control: Since armadillos normally dig burrows in areas that have cover, the removal of brush, rock piles and tall grass will sometimes discourage them from becoming established.

Exclusion: Although armadillos can climb over small fences or burrow under them, fencing or barriers may be effective under the right conditions. A fence slanted outward at a 40-degree angle, with at least 18 inches buried, usually will deter them. If a large area needs to be protected, this method may not be practical because of the cost.

Restrictions: Although it is legal to trap armadillos at any time, persons wishing to trap armadillos and then relocate them should notify local Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representatives. For additional information, contact the nearest office of Texas AgriLife Extension Wildlife Services.

Harrison County Cattleman’s Association

It is that time of the year again. Each fall, the members of the Harrison County Cattlemen’s Association have their fall gathering to eat a juicy ribeye steak, pay their annual dues and discuss current topics in today’s beef cattle industry. This year we are going to be doing free forage testing. That’s right: If you get a sample of your hay, preferably with a hay corer that we have available at the Extension Office, we will get it analyzed for free. The hay crop is not only short this year, but I guarantee you we will see protein results all over the board. Take advantage of this free service to help build your winter-feeding program for your beef herd. The meeting will be at Cumberland Presbyterian Church at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. Annual dues will be collected at this time. Please drop your samples off at the Extension Office by Oct. 20. A quart sized baggie is all we need, but it needs to be chopped up in pieces no longer than 1 inch. If you bring me a feed sack full, be prepared to be using scissors for a while.

Harrison County 4-H Community Service and Fundraiser

This year for National 4-H week and One Day 4-H, the 4-H members of Harrison County will hold a pet supply drive. We have contacted the Marshall Pet Adoption Center, and the following is a list of items that they need:

  • gallons of bleach
  • laundry soap
  • puppy pee pads
  • dawn dish soap
  • puppy and kitten food
  • puppy and kitten formula
  • bleach spray
  • scrub brushes
  • spray bottles
  • paper towels

Items can be dropped off at the Harrison County Extension Office by Oct. 11. The office is located at 102 W. Houston St. in Marshall. Or you can call (903) 935-8413 for more details.

Harrison County 4-H will be selling “I Support the 4-H of Harrison County” shirts to help cover enrollment, awards, training fees and so much more. If you would like to purchase one, let me know. The members will be around town, if you run into one of them please support if you can!

Short sleeve will be $20. Long sleeves will be $30. Cut off to purchase is Oct. 31. Checks can be made out to Harrison 4-H.

Get your kids signed up before Oct. 31 to take advantage of a waived enrollment fee. Yes, as of right now if you enroll your child in 4-H the enrollment fee of $25 has been taken care of through generous donations.

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— Matt Garrett is the county agent for agriculture and natural resources in Harrison County.