For the past few weeks, I have been getting questions about armadillos and ways to control them.
Let me begin with some background information about the armadillo species in Georgia. There is only one species of armadillo that lives in Georgia, the nine-banded armadillo. It is also the only mammal in Georgia that has a shell.
It is a myth that the nine-banded armadillo can curl up into a ball to protect to itself. Armadillos are common in south and Middle Georgia and are continuing to move north. They have been found as far north as Athens and Rome.
They prefer a habitat near streams but avoid places that are excessively wet or dry. They do not tolerate cold temperatures, so migration into the Appalachian Mountains should be limited.
They also do not tolerate temperatures above 85 degrees. Because they are temperature sensitive, during the winter they are active during the warmer part of the day, and during the summer they are active at night. They spend the remainder of the time in their burrows. One armadillo can have up to 10 burrows. Their home territory can range up to 22 acres.
The majority of the time spent outside of their burrows is spent foraging. They forage using smell and sound. Their diet consists of mostly insects, but studies have shown they also consume fruit, seed, other protein sources and a variety of plant matter. Although their feeding habits can be beneficial (feeding on white grubs and fire ants), their digging is a nuisance among many homeowners.
Nearly 80 percent of county agents in Georgia have reported that they receive requests for more information about armadillos. Armadillos damage lawns by digging holes that are a few inches deep and wide while they are foraging. They can also uproot. Their damage is not considered to be a great economic loss, but it is a nuisance to homeowners.
There are a few different ways armadillos can be controlled. Live trapping is one option. The wire cages are placed in a V-arrangement along natural barriers. This design funnels the armadillo into the trap. The traps can also be placed at the entrance to the burrow.
There is not specific bait that has been shown to increase the success of capture. There are also no repellents or pesticides registered for use on armadillos. Insecticides can be used to reduce the insect population, thus reducing the amount of food available.
Because armadillos are not protected, they can be hunted year round. A .22 caliber rifle can be used to reduce the armadillo population as along as it is used in a safe and legal manner, but always check with city and county ordinances before discharging a weapon. Please remember to practice gun safety when handling a weapon.
I hope that you have found this information to be informative and that it will help with your future interactions with armadillos.
Source: Armadillos by Michael T. Mengak
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.
Dates to remember
Nov. 28-29: Houston County Extension office will be closed for Thanksgiving
Jan. 6-8: Beltwide Cotton Conference New Orleans, La.
2014 Georgia Ag Forecast: Jan. 24-Macon, Jan. 29-Tifton
Charlotte Mote is the Houston County agricultural and natural resources agent. Contact her at 478-987-2028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.