How to Get Rid of Armadillos
In North America, there is only one native species of armadillo – the nine-banded, long-nosed armadillo. This animal is considered a pest for its extensive burrow digging, and territorial marking via urine, feces, and other scent gland excretions. The foraging of this animal can cause damage to plant roots in home gardens and landscaping, and the burrows they leave behind often become the homes of other nuisance animals such as skunks, rats, and snakes.
Nine-banded Armadillo Expansion and Reach
The nine-banded armadillo is more widespread than any other armadillo species in the world, with a reach from Central South America, throughout Central America, and into the Southern Midwest and Eastern United States. It is has established itself well from Texas to Florida, and as far north as southern Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana. According to armadillo-online.org, armadillos are expected to expand into Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The nine-banded armadillo wasn’t introduced to North America until the late 19th century, and it has expanded its established areas rapidly since that time. The reason for this is suspected to be that the armadillo has few natural predators. It can survive well anywhere there are insects – its preferred diet – and this often includes scrublands, open prairies and rainforests. The armadillo cannot survive in very hot and dry, or extremely cold climates because it is not well insulated by fat, increasing its risk of dehydration.
Armadillo Size and Behavior
The nine-banded armadillo ranges in total length from 25 to 42 inches. It can weigh between 5 and 14 pounds, and is between 6 and 10 inches tall. The outside of its body is comprised of scaly armor, and its feet have elongated middle claws designed for digging up bugs and insects. This is not an armadillo that can roll itself into a ball, but it can float across a river by inflating its intestines, or it can run on the bottom of the riverbed because of its amazing ability to hold its breath for as long as 6 minutes.
One armadillo may keep as many as 12 burrows of its own in its territory, which can cover a single property. In addition, the armadillo has a slow metabolism, making quick movements not preferable; however, if frightened, they can jump up to 4 feet off the ground and move with surprising speed.
Getting Rid of an Armadillo
Armadillos’ ability to dig holes and cause extensive damage to a yard or garden makes removing or repelling them a necessary, though often difficult, task. If you are looking for a way to keep armadillos out of your yard, read on to discover a number of helpful methods to keep armadillos away from your property.
Homemade Armadillo Repellents
One homemade armadillo repellent that is rumored to work is a mixture of cayenne pepper and water. The cayenne pepper is supposed to be offensive to their senses, and the liquid will help the cayenne pepper stick to the surface to which you are applying it. Although the cost of this method is low – usually around $5 for a bottle of cayenne pepper – the mixture needs to be reapplied frequently due to rainfall and may not be as effective as other methods. Depending on how much you dilute the cayenne pepper, the bottle will typically make 16 fluid ounces of repellent. The coverage area for those 16 ounces depends on how heavily the homemade armadillo repellent is applied to the desired area.
Commercial Armadillo Repellents
There are commercial armadillo repellents that can be used to deter armadillos. These repellents typically come in liquid form, but can also be found as granules, though these are often labeled as generic “animal” repellents. The liquid repellents don’t try to deter or repel the nuisance armadillo through smell, but, rather, by making its food supply unappealing. The repellent is to be sprayed on your property in an attempt to cover the insects on your property with a coating of solution that will make them taste bad. The desired result is that the armadillo will leave your property in search of insects that taste better.
Consumer reviews of this type of product on Amazon revealed little success because the armadillos dig deeper than the layer of application, or find a new spot to forage if you have treated an existing hole. Those who were dissatisfied with the repellents found more success with live traps. Armadillo repellents are available in natural, non-toxic solutions that will not harm pets or children. Their cost can range from $12 to $15 for a 16 fluid ounces of ready-to-use spray or 1.25 pounds of ready-to-use granules. These products will not need to be applied as often as the homemade repellents, however they will need to be reapplied every 4 to 6 weeks.
Electronic Armadillo Repellents
Motion activated electronic repellents are also an option for deterring armadillos from entering your yard. Electronic deterrents are activated when they sense motion, sending a stream of water from a sprinkler head to the trespassing creature. The device also emits a noise to scare the armadillo away. These systems range in price from $50 to $300 depending on the complexity of the device and the area of coverage. Because an armadillo tends to burrow when it is frightened, this option may not work unless a perimeter is created that discourages the armadillo from attempting to cross. Obviously, the expense for a perimeter of these electronic repellents would be very high.
Armadillos are known for digging holes; therefore traditional fencing options may not prove effective. If you would like to try this method you can surround your yard with wooden fencing which usually runs around $15 to $25 per foot of fencing. The drawback to this method is that if the armadillo is aggressive, a fence will most likely not stop it from getting into your yard. They will likely dig under the fence to by-pass this measure.
Electric fencing is a more effective fencing option for armadillos. Although this is a more cost-intensive method, ranging from $40 to $150 generally covering an area of 100 to 200 square feet, it is usually a one-time set up product. However, while you can place electric fencing wire relatively close to the ground, the armadillo can still burrow underneath it. According to the University of Missouri, “Armadillos can climb as well as burrow. Fencing or other barriers may exclude them under certain conditions. A fence slanted outward, with a portion buried in the ground, can be effective.”
Humane Live Armadillo Traps
If you are looking to remove and/or relocate a nuisance armadillo, live animal traps can be an option. The North American nine-banded armadillo is a medium-sized mammal, so look for a trap that is the correct size, can be opened from both ends, and can be set and released with one hand for the best results. It should also have the release mechanism on the outside of the trap so you can avoid contact with the animal once it's caught. Because armadillos are nocturnal, a trap is most likely to be sprung at or after dusk, which is when they come out to forage for food. Medium-sized traps range in price from $50 to $75 and should typically be around 32"L X 10.5"W X 12”H.
Tips for Armadillo Trapping
If one of these animals has already taken up residence in your yard, you need to know how to trap armadillos in order to stop their destructive habits from destroying your property.
When baiting armadillo traps, it is recommended to use foods the armadillo will be attracted to; common baits for this animal include mealworms, maggots, spoiled meat, sardines, overripe fruit and fish. Put the worms, or other bait, in a nylon stocking instead of loose in the trap. This way, the smell can still get out, but the worms stay put. Also, using two long boards to "guide" the armadillo to the trap will help keep the animal moving toward the trap entrance instead of wandering away should it become distracted.
Before implementing these armadillo trapping and baiting tips, be sure to know what to do with the animal once it is trapped. Before going about trapping an armadillo, be sure to check with your state and county laws on live trapping and relocation. Different state and county laws vary on what requirements must be met to legally trap and relocate an armadillo. Always make sure to check your state’s regulations on live trapping, removal and relocation. If you choose to relocate the armadillo, then be sure to transport it at least two miles away so it doesn’t return to your yard foraging for more food.
Professional Armadillo Trapping and Removal
Another option to get rid of armadillos is professional trapping and removal. With professional trapping and removal, the expert makes the decision on whether to relocate or euthanize the armadillo once it has been caught. Although this method is safe and will provide a less time consuming fix to the problem, it can be expensive, depending on the severity of the armadillo problem, and is sometimes the least humane option. Note that for some homeowners, the cost may be covered by their homeowner’s insurance. Please contact your insurance provider to find out if this option is available to you.
No one wants to have their yard or garden dug up and destroyed by armadillos. To prevent the destruction that armadillos can cause, choose a deterrent method that best meets your needs, budget and time constraints.