Yes, Armadillos Live in Tennessee: Here’s Why They Are Becoming Common

armadillo in tennessee

Armadillos can be an uncommon sight in East Tennessee (photo by Christopher Biggs/shutterstock.com)

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.

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.

An armadillo forages in the leaves
An armadillo mostly eats insects like ants, flies, mature and larval beetles (photo by cctm/shutterstock.com)

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.

An armadillo on its hind legs
Armadillos will not usually harm a human, but always keep your distance from wildlife (photo by Chase D’animulls/shutterstock.com)

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.

An armadillo in the forest
Armadillos are making their way to East Tennessee, but a sighting is still uncommon (photo by Wirestock Creators/shutterstock.com)

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. 

TheSmokies.com

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Have you spotted an armadillo in Tennessee? If so, let me know in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “Yes, Armadillos Live in Tennessee: Here’s Why They Are Becoming Common”

  1. Just had one in our yard tonight! So cute. Didn’t know we had them. We are in Roane County, Tennessee. I have photos and a video.

    Reply
  2. There are a number on our property in northwest Davidson County, digging up flower beds, blackberry bushes, and the yard. We have trapped several, but there are always more to take its place. They are invasive and have no local predators to keep their population under control. Their holes are all over and are are deep and wide enough to break the leg of any horse that happened to step in one.

    Reply
  3. We just spotted a few on our heavily wooded property in West Nashville. I didn’t have my “armadillo antenna” up until we accidentally hit one in our driveway. Its carcass disappeared a few days later, probably because our frequently visiting coyote dragged it off. Our dog also dropped a “gift” on our porch one — it was an armadillo foot. Yuck! Now when I hear rustling in the leaves, I’m more on guard.

    Reply
  4. There was one in our yard last night, in Spring City. Our yard has several places that have been dug up, but we thought it was skunks. Hoping to trap and relocate. If anyone has any suggestions, it would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  5. I LIVE HERE IN ROCK ISLAND TN MY DOGS GOT 9 ARMADILLO’S OUT OF MY YARD IN THE LAST 4 MONTH’S. …THEY ARE THE STINKEST THING AROUND.

    Reply
  6. There are six “armies”, as I call them, in the back of our home. Four are young, mom and dad. McMinnville. As long as they don’t eat my flowers, I’m good.

    Reply
  7. I’ve seen them as roadkill in Roane county only in the past 2 years. Didn’t know until then that they were even in East Tennessee at all. Sightings are fairly common as well.

    Reply
  8. I have seen them in Monterey Tn, AlGood Tn, Hilham Tn, Cookeville Tn, Livingston Tn All along I 40 from Crossville past west of Nashville.

    Reply

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