It is in the Southern states that you'll probably encounter an armadillo, and it'll be a nine-banded armadillo — the only type you will find in the USA. A rather odd animal, looking a little bit like a small cat but with armoured plating all over the body, the armadillo is fast becoming known as one of the biggest pest animals, bringing them with a wide and varied mix of problems.
Armadillo Problems in the Backyard
Being a digging animal, it'll be holes, tunnels and burrows that cause some of the biggest issues when an armadillo moves in. These can cause agricultural land to become damaged and unstable, and could even lead to the euthanasia of animals such as horses and cows, due to injuries when falling into holes/collapsed mounds.
That's not the only thing they'll do while they're in the back yard or on your property, though. They'll also create holes to look for insects and other tasty food treats below the surface, which can leave a beautiful lawn littered with messy holes and decimate a flower garden in no time at all. They're not an overly dangerous animal (unless you're considering the leprosy threat), but they are definitely a nuisance one.
Is Trapping the Best Way to Remove an Armadillo?
In reality, a wildlife professional is the best person to call when you have this animal — or any other wild/pest animal — living on your property. This is to ensure the removal job is done both safely and legally. There are disease risks associated with certain animals, and that means removing the animal without contaminated, waste matter could be detrimental. This is part of the job usually covered by a good, licensed wildlife removal expert/company.
There isn't a poison you can use and buy for armadillos, so anything that you create in your own garden shed is probably going to be dangerous, if not deadly, to you, your family members, pets, other animals, and perhaps even contaminating and poisoning water sources and soil/earth.
We don't recommend using water to get rid of armadillos, either by way of drowning, flushing out a burrow, or using motion-triggered water jet-based repellents. You will likely cause more problems for the stability of the land if you flood expanses beneath the surface with water, and if you aren't overly knowledgeable on the area — drain water, etc. there's a chance that you could cause flooding or water-related problems elsewhere.
Trapping and releasing armadillos, particularly when you use an expert, is the fastest, usually cheapest, and simplest way to get rid of the animal.
Armadillo Trapping Tips
If you're going to attempt DIY armadillo trapping and removal, here are the things you'll need to know to get the job done:
1 - You will need traps, more than one, and large enough to contain an animal the size of an armadillo. Traps designed for raccoons are usually about right, and we personally recommend that you buy and use one or two traps. The more traps you have, the more effective your trapping efforts are going to be. At $30+ a pop, however, more traps also mean added expense.
Tip: If you are buying traps and trap equipment and it's starting to look as though the job might cost more than a hundred dollars or so, get in touch with us so that we can give you a free quote for the job over the phone. If you can get the job done yourself, safely and without spending more money than is necessary, we will give you all the advice you need.
If you do need a professional, a basic armadillo trapping job will set you back around $100-$200. (Extra services such as exclusion barriers and cleanup, etc. will usually add on fees.)
2 - Traps MUST be placed along routes that the armadillo would regularly travel. You CANNOT lure an armadillo into a trap using bait, and there is no effective bait-type for armadillos. If you don't know how to find armadillo burrows or well-travelled routes, some investigative work is needed to find them.
3 - Traps must be free from all human (and other animal) scents. If you are reusing a trap that has already been used to catch another animal, you must make sure the trap has been thoroughly and effectively cleaned to remove all traces of that animal's scent (as well as disease threats).
4 - You cannot place traps in direct sunlight, or in areas where sunlight is going to hit for long periods of the day. Armadillos probably won't go anywhere near a trap that has been set in bright and direct sunlight, and if you do manage to trap the animal, it'll suffer with the effects of overheating and dehydration very quickly. All animal traps must be checked multiple times per day, with any caught animals dealt with promptly.
5 - Traps will need to be camouflaged, particularly the base of the trap — the part that touches the floor. Leaves, twigs, small rocks and pebbles, and other garden debris can be used here, and this can also help to mask any scents that may still be present on the metal.
6 - Traps that aren't sat close and flush to the floor will not be used by an armadillo. Similarly, if the trap can move (in the wind, with an animal sniffing or stepping on it) the armadillo will be unlikely to enter.
7 - Bait is not important. The trap's appearance and position is much more important than the food you place inside it, and there actually isn't a specific type of food or bait that has been shown to work with armadillos. Experienced trappers will tell you that they have had just as much luck with unbaited traps as they do with baited ones, when trapping armadillos.
8 - Armadillos that are trapped must be removed immediately. You cannot leave this animal out in the sun, or left outside when the temperatures are warm even when they are in the shade. You must also remember that other passing animals, including domestic pets, will look upon the armadillo in the trap as a predator and a threat, and will act accordingly. Conflicts can arise, with the armadillo left virtually unable to defend any attack within the cage. It is unlikely that another animal on the outside will be able to do too much damage if a wire cage trap has been used, but the stress inflicted on the animal can be very damaging. If the armadillo has thrown itself around in the cage, it could also inflict injury on itself.
9 - When releasing an armadillo back into the wild, you MUST check regulations for that local area, for that specific animal. Armadillos are not an animal that is classed as endangered or threatened, but the introduction of non-native areas to new habitats can lead to conflicts within the existing ecological system, as well as spreading disease to new areas.
10 - It is recommended that you drive at least five to ten miles away from the point of trapping before you release the animal, but make sure you release the animal into a suitable habitat. If you release it into another urban environment or close to commercial buildings, you'll be causing an armadillo problem for another property owner. You could also, once again, spread disease.
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