Armadillos are a group of placental mammals characterized by long sharp claws and pointed snouts. They are the only mammals that have a shell, which consists of bony plates covering most of their body like armor.
They are commonly found in Central and South America. Specifically, in the US, their range extends from the south side of New Mexico and spans all the way to Florida. Given their huge numbers in the area, it is common to wonder if they are native to Florida.
Are armadillos native to Florida?
Armadillos are not native to Florida. They were first introduced in the 1920s along the east coast and are now a common sight in almost every county in the state.
Only one species of armadillo is found in the United States, and that is the nine-banded armadillo. It was first noticed in Texas and now has spread to other states, including Louisiana, North Dakota, and of course, Florida.
In Florida, armadillos can be seen in residential areas, by the roadside, or along bushes and ponds. They are mostly active at night when searching for food, which are usually worms and bugs.
What Are Armadillos?
Armadillos are little rodent-like animals that can be found in North and South America.
The word “Armadillo” is Spanish for little armored one. They are called so because of the bony plates that cover their body like an armor. It covers their heads, tails, legs, and back.
Despite their odd look, armadillos belong to the Phylum Chordata and the class Mammalia. So they are actually mammals, even though they have a shell. The shell is made up of bony plates covered in keratin, which serves as a form of protection.
They also have strong clawed legs for digging and jumping.
Young armadillos are not born with the characteristic hard shell. They are born soft and leathery, which makes them more vulnerable to predators. The juveniles are usually able to walk within a few hours after being born.
Armadillos are commonly found in open grasslands, savannahs, and occasionally in forests of southern and central America.
How did Armadillos get to Florida?
Armadillos were first introduced to Florida in the early 20th century by humans. The armadillo that was introduced was the Nine-banded armadillo, which still remains the only species in Florida.
It is believed that they were brought in from Cocoa Beach by a tourist, Gus Edwards. Edwards brought a pair with him from the beach, which later escaped and began to reproduce and multiply. After some time, they began migrating southwards till they spread to other states.
There’s also another report that says Armadillos got into Florida after crossing the Mexican border into America.
Where are armadillos native to?
Armadillos are native to South America and can be found in the following countries:
Even though they are originally from South America, they are now spread across parts of North America, including Texas, Orlando, Oklahoma, and Florida.
They keep expanding their range northwards, especially in places where the soil conditions are favorable. This is because they love to dig and hence prefer places with soft soil and a high population of insects and grubs.
They live in deserts, temperate rainforests, and grasslands.
Are armadillos invasive to Florida?
The armadillo is seen as an invasive species in Florida. And this is because they can be quite destructive. They are often found by roadside foraging and sometimes get hit by cars.
They also invade residential areas, climbing onto roofs and decks and digging under buildings in search of food. You may also find them in lawns, gardens, cemeteries, nurseries, and orange groves.
One of the signs that they’ve been to a place is their droppings. They tend to mark territories where there’s food; this can be anywhere, even in front of your lawn.
In general, armadillos tend to feel safer in urban regions such as Florida due to the small or even non-existent population of predators. By living among humans, they can worry less about becoming prey to coyotes, bobcats, and large birds of prey.
Are armadillos protected in Florida?
Armadillos are protected by the laws of Florida. However, it’s not against the law to trap and release them to animal control if they’re a nuisance. But you are not allowed to use poison as a form of bait. It is also illegal to transport and relocate them.
Hunting armadillos for sports or food is also against the laws of the state.
Is it common to see armadillos in Florida?
Yes, armadillos are a pretty common sight in Florida and can be found in most parts of the state. Due to their growing population, there has been increasing contact between the animal and humans all over the state.
You may find them in residential areas or gardens where they are often digging for grubs. They are considered a naturalized mammal species in the state.
However, the little armored ones are not present in areas like Everglades, Florida Keys, and Cypress Swamp. The living conditions in these places are not favorable.
This can be linked to the climate, soil type, and presence of predators.
- Soil types: The dense clayey soil of the swamps can be hard to dig and move in for the armadillos.
- Climate: Armadillos are usually found in the warmer southern regions of Florida. These regions do not experience as much frost as the northern regions.
- Predators: Armadillos tend to avoid places that are populated with their natural enemies. Animals like Coyotes, bobcats, and large birds of prey are avoided.
Are armadillos dangerous?
Armadillos are not considered dangerous. In fact, they rarely show signs of aggression unless they need to defend themselves. Even though they have very sharp claws, it is mostly used for digging. They may also use it for defense when the need arises.
Where to see Armadillos in Florida?
If you want to see armadillos in Florida, here are some places you can look:
- Burrows: Armadillos are burrowing creatures. If you want to find some during the day, you can go to their burrows, where they may be resting.
- Merritt island national wildlife refuge
- Cape Canaveral national seashore
NB: Armadillos are nocturnal creatures, so the best time to see them is during evenings or nights.
How to get rid of Armadillos in Florida
Armadillos can be a disturbance in many places due to their digging and burrowing activities. Here’s how to remove them from your property.
Use Live traps
It is illegal to hunt armadillos in Florida. However, you can use traps that catch and release them to the state’s pest control. They can be quite hard to catch, so you may need to use some bait to lure them in.
Weed your garden
Tall grasses and shrubs often attract insects. Insects are the main course in an armadillo’s diet. So, weeding your yard or garden regularly will reduce the insect population. You can also use insecticides.
Get rid of their burrows
You can get rid of armadillos by filling up their burrows and removing all other hiding places they might have.
NB: All these are prevention measures. In case they already have a stronghold on your property, we recommend contacting a pest control service to help remove and relocate them using humane methods.
Other Related Questions
What time do Armadillos come out in Florida?
Armadillos can be found in the open during the evenings. They are generally active from dusk up until dawn, which is expected since they are nocturnal.
Where are most armadillos located?
Most Armadillos are found in temperate regions with soft, loose soil. Specifically, the nine-banded armadillo is often seen in areas with a lot of grass and plant life. These places usually have a high insect and worm population, which attracts the critters.
Are there armadillos in Orlando?
Yes, there are. Armadillos are a very common sight in the Magic City. They’re considered a wildlife pest and are often spotted around people’s homes, digging up their yards. If you encounter them on your property, we recommend calling a pest control service to safely remove them and have them relocated.
Are there armadillos in Tampa, Florida?
Tampa is another place you will find armadillos. The warm climate and grasslands of Tampa make it a really attractive place for the critters. They are often seen around roadside grasses and shrubs. Many times, they are hit by cars.
Are armadillos in Miami?
Yes, there are armadillos in Miami. They can be found in sheds and under decks. Miami has a very warm, tropical climate with a lot of loose soil, which is very favorable for armadillos.
What US state has the most armadillos?
Texas has the most population of armadillos. In fact, they are named the state mammal of Texas.
Final Words: Are Armadillos Native to Florida?
To conclude, even though armadillos are a common sight in Florida, they are not native to the state. Since they are nocturnal, you may not always see them during the day.
Even though they are invasive, it is illegal to hunt or kill armadillos in Florida. Instead, you want to exploit other methods, such as using live traps, getting rid of weeds, and removing burrows.