What you should know about armadillos
As an East Tennessean, I have seen plenty of armadillo carcasses. But I’d never found myself face-to-face with one of the nocturnal mammals until recently. I had assumed that armadillos are essentially possums with chain mail. However, it turns out that armadillos have more in common with the anteater than they do the possum, which are also nocturnal animals that frequently litter roadways across the United States.
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Are armadillos common in Tennessee?
Yes. However, they are not as common in Northeast Tennessee or near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After all, Tennessee is a long state with varying geography. East Tennessee is substantially different from Middle Tennessee or West Tennessee. In places like Knoxville and Pigeon Forge and up into the northeast part of the state and the mountains, the armadillos aren’t quite as common.
But about 30 years ago, their numbers started increasing in Tennessee, according to the TWRA, because they keep migrating and expanding their range – with the well-developed claws they use for burrowing – to the east. The arrival of armadillos in the state, usually found by the side of the road, started in the early 1980s. By the 1990s, the invasive species was able to call the state of Tennessee their permanent home. But overall, armadillo sightings remain somewhat rare.
Do armadillos bite?
The Missouri Poison Center – your go-to source for armadillo news – says no. But, I mean, they have teeth, don’t they? Further research, looking a few more entries down in Google, some sources say that if armadillos are posed with a serious threat, they can claw and bite. Armadillo-online.org adds they will most likely try to run away but says they can do damage with their strong claws if handled “incorrectly.” Friends, don’t be out here in these streets trying to handle armadillos correctly. The best way to stay safe? Leave them alone.
What do armadillos eat?
The armadillos’ main diet is mostly animals like ants, flies, mature and larval beetles, earthworms and the occasional small reptiles. They will occasionally eat fruit and are fond of persimmons. The main thing armadillos want to do is eat, spread the species through the Americas and live their life. It takes seven months for breeding armadillos to deliver litters of identical quadruplets. That’s right. Armadillos give birth to four, same-sex babies at a time. The babies are born without shells and take a year or more to become mature.
Is it legal to hunt armadillos?
Yes. As a non-indigenous species, armadillos can be hunted year-round. There is no limit. Many places where they are common have pest control companies that will trap armadillos and relocate them. A native species of South America, armadillo meat is a fairly common foodstuff around Central America. Called “poor man’s pork,” it should be good and completely cooked due to the whole leprosy thing. But, always check with the TWRA for the most up-to-date rules and regulations.
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Have you spotted an armadillo in Tennessee? If so, let me know in the comments.