The Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)1
Joseph M. Schaefer and Mark E. Hostetler2
1. This document is WEC 76 and was previously published under the title “Control of Armadillos.” It is one of a series of the Department of Wildlife
Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension. First published January 1998. Revised October 2003 and October 2012. Reviewed August 2015. Please
visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.u.edu for more publications.
2. Joseph M. Schaefer, district director, County Operations, Everglades Research and Education Center; and Mark E. Hostetler, wildlife Extension specialist
and professor, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to
individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national
origin, political opinions or aliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension oce.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County
Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.
Armadillos are prehistoric-looking animals that belong
to a family of mammals found primarily in Central and
South America. e earliest fossil ancestor of our North
American armadillo occurred about 60 million years ago; it
was as large as a rhinoceros. Our present-day nine-banded
or long-nosed armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus, is much
smaller; adults normally weigh from 8–17 pounds (3.5–8
kilograms) (Figure 1). is species occurs in Texas and east,
throughout the South. It occasionally is found in Missouri
and South Carolina. However, cold weather limits the
northern boundary of the armadillo’s range.
Armadillos were not always present in Florida. During the
past century, they expanded their range from Texas into
the Florida panhandle. From 1920 to about 1970, there
were several introductions of armadillos into the Atlantic
coast region of Florida. en the panhandle and peninsular
populations expanded until they merged. Armadillos are
now found in uplands throughout Florida, except in the
Keys and parts of the Everglades and Big Cypress swamp.
Armadillos have a shield-like shell covered with horny
scales. Joints in the shell are exible, which enable the
animal to bend and twist. Only the ears and belly of the
armadillo are without bony armor (Figure 2). ese pecu-
liar animals have 28–32 peg-like teeth in simple rows well
back in the mouth. ere are no front teeth. Armadillos
have poor eyesight and hearing, but a keen sense of smell.
Both males and females are about the same size, look alike,
and have similar habits. Despite their awkward appearance,
armadillos are agile runners and good swimmers, and even
have the ability to walk underwater across small streams.
Figure 1. The nine-banded armadillo.
Credits: Bill Kern
Figure 2. Dr. Joe Schaefer examines an armadillo.
e Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
Armadillos inhabit dense shady cover, such as brush,
woodland or pine forests. Soil texture is also a factor in the
animal’s habitat selection. ey prefer sandy or loam soils
that are relatively easy to excavate.
Armadillos typically rest in a deep burrow during the day
and become more active during the late evening, night, or
early morning. ese burrows are usually located under
brushpiles, stumps, rockpiles, dense brush, or concrete
patios, and are about 7–8 inches (18–20 cm) in diameter
and can be up to 15 feet (4.5 m) long. Armadillos oen have
several burrows throughout their territory, but use only one
to raise their young.
Although armadillos breed in late July, the 5-month gesta-
tion period is delayed, which results in the young being
born in February or March. Only one litter is produced
each year, and it always includes four identical young of
the same sex because they develop from a single egg. e
young look like the adults except that they are smaller and
their armor coat remains so and leathery for some time,
becoming harder with age.
Compared to other common mammals such as raccoon
and opossum, armadillos are remarkably free of parasites.
Twenty-six parasites and disease agents have been identied
from armadillos in Florida. ese include 2 arboviruses, 19
bacteria, 2 protozoans, 1 nematode, and 2 mites. All except
the nematode and mites may also infect humans or other
animals, but no severe outbreaks of these situations have
been reported. Rabies has never been diagnosed in armadil-
los in Florida.
In 1971, a captive armadillo developed leprosy 17 months
aer it was inoculated with the bacterium Mycobacterium
leprae obtained from an infected human. Subsequently,
armadillos have been used in further study of this disease.
Leprosy in wild armadillos has been reported at rates
ranging from 0.5% to 10% in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi,
and Mexico. However, no infections have been found in
the more than 2,500 armadillos examined in Florida. e
relationship between infections in wild armadillos and in
humans is not clear.
Causes of Death
Armadillos are one of the most common victims of
highway mortality in Florida. e armadillo’s instinctive
response of jumping upwards when startled may be eec-
tive at avoiding a lunging predator, but not an automobile
or truck passing overhead. Also, many are killed by dogs
ese animals feed primarily on insects and their larvae.
ey also eat earthworms, scorpions, spiders, snails, and
small vertebrates and their eggs. Reports of armadillo
damage to birds’ nests on the ground are rare. People
cannot help but appreciate the fact that armadillos consume
large amounts of armyworms, cockroaches, ants, wasps,
ies, beetles, and grasshoppers. ey have been known to
dig up entire yellow-jacket nests. Armadillos usually search
for food by rooting or digging in ground litter, but will
occasionally eat berries and mushrooms.
Type of Damage Caused by
Armadillos are, to some degree, benecial because they eat
adult insects and larvae. But their feeding behavior also can
cause problems for property owners and managers. When
looking for insects in the soil, armadillos dig numerous
holes in golf courses, lawns, owerbeds, and gardens. ese
holes typically are 1–3 inches (2.5–7.6 cm) deep and 3–5
inches (7.6–12.7 cm) wide. ey also uproot owers and
other ornamental plants. Armadillo burrows under drive-
ways and patios can cause structural damage; and burrows
in pastures can pose a potential hazard to livestock.
Methods of Control
Recommended methods of control include:
• reduce watering and fertilizing lawns
• creating barriers (e.g., fences)
• shooting oending individuals.
Reducing watering and fertilizing your lawn will reduce
armadillo damage. A moist lush landscape is perfect for
earthworms and insect larvae. Armadillos love earthworms.
Sometimes watering adjacent areas may attract armadillos
away from a site.
e Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)
Where highly valued plantings are in need of protection,
small fences may be used to keep the animals out. ese
fences should be approximately 24 inches (60 cm) above
ground with the bottom of the fence buried 18 inches below
the surface of the ground. e fence also should be slanted
outward at about a 40° angle.
Several live-trapping techniques can be used to capture
armadillos as they come out of their burrows. One is to
rmly insert a 6-inch diameter PVC pipe into the entrance
of an active burrow. Regular-sized armadillos will get stuck
in the pipe as they try to exit. A nylon throw-net used for
shing can also be staked down so it covers the burrow
entrance. Armadillos will get tangled in the net as they
emerge. Another trapping technique involves burying a
large bucket (larger than 5-gallons) in front of the entrance,
and covering it with newspaper or plastic sheeting and a
light layer of soil.
Because armadillos are nocturnal, all trapping techniques
designed to capture armadillos emerging from burrows
should be applied late in the aernoon and checked several
hours aer darkness.
Some armadillos can be discouraged from returning to bur-
rows by lling the hole with a mixture of dirt and mothballs
aer you are sure they have le for the night. Constant
lling of the hole will oen prevent them from returning.
Laying chicken-wire along a patio, driveway or house
foundation will also discourage them from burrowing.
Armadillos also can be trapped in raccoon-sized, metal,
cage live-traps (available from local pest control and feed
stores) or in homemade box traps. Traps should be located
near the entrance of burrows or along fences or other
barriers where they might travel. is trap is most eective
when “wings” (1 x 6 inch x 6 feet boards or other material)
are added to funnel the animal into the trap (See Figure
3). e benet of using baits with this trap is questionable.
Suggested baits are live earthworms or mealworms in
surrounding soil placed in hanging bags made of old nylon
stockings. Other suggested baits are overripe or spoiled
fruit. Armadillos are more likely to enter a cage trap when
leaf litter or soil is placed over the wire bottom.
Relocating problem animals to another area is not
recommended. is approach only transfers the problem
somewhere else, can enhance the spread of diseases, and
upsets the natural balance in the area where the armadillo is
released. Further, armadillos are not native to Florida and it
is illegal to transport and release them.
Shooting is another method frequently used to control
nuisance armadillos where it is legal to discharge a rearm.
Recommended rearms are a shotgun with No. 4 to BB-
sized shot or .22 or other small caliber rie. It is illegal to
use articial lights to aid in the shooting of armadillos at
night. Armadillo meat is edible if properly prepared and
there is no daily possession or season limit on them.
Poison baits are illegal and ineective. No chemical repel-
lents or fumigants are registered for use in Florida.
Fitch, H.S., P. Goodrum, and C. Newman. 1952. e
armadillo in the southeastern United States. J. Mammal.
Howerth, E.W., D.E. Stallknecht, W.R. Davidson, and
E.J. Wentworth. 1990. Survey for leprosy in nine-banded
armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus from the southeastern
United States. J. Wildl. Dis. 26:112-115.
Humphrey, S.R. 1974. Zoogeography of the nine-banded
armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus in the United States.
Ober, H.K., DeGroote, L.W., and R.F Mizell III. 2011.
Baiting the Nine-banded Armadillo. University of Florida,
IFAS Extension document WEC 317. Available at http://
Wolfe, J.L. 1968. Armadillo distribution in Alabama and
northwest Florida. Quart. J. Fla. Acad. Sci. 31:209-212.
Figure 3. A live-trap with “wings” added to help guide the armadillo
into the trap.
Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage by University of
Nebraska, USDA-APHIS, and the Great Plains Agricultural Council