Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wild Fact: Armadillos

In the mid-1800s, the Nine-Banded Armadillo only lived in southern Texas. However, during the mid- to late-1900s, the range of this strange-looking, nocturnal mammal expanded to include Georgia’s Coastal Plain and parts of the Piedmont. Bony plates called scutes cover the armadillo’s body and protect it from predators. Poor eyesight is evident from its tiny eyes, but a long snout and sharp claws help with foraging for insects, worms, and small vertebrates. When frightened, armadillos often jump straight up in the air before running away. This delayed escape makes them common roadkill. Since armadillos may carry leprosy, handling them is not a good idea.

WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.


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