There are about twenty species of armadillo found worldwide. Of those twenty odd species, only one can be found in the United States: the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). These strange mammals (yes, mammals) were first reported in the U.S. in 1849. Their closest relatives in the animal kingdom (besides other dillos) are sloths and anteaters. Adult nine-banded armadillos are about 2 feet long, weigh 8–17lbs, have a thick candy shell of true bone, and are arguably kinda cute. All of the armadillos have terrible eyesight but very keen senses of hearing and sound. Perhaps the most interesting thing about armadillos is the fact that they almost always give birth to identical quadruplets, which really just means that there's gonna be four more critters out there to make you mad.
Armadillos, aside from being cute and ass-ugly at the same time, can be quite destructive. So there's no question why people want to know how get rid of armadillos. When looking for food, the armadillos use their extra sharp claws to dig up little holes in your yard. These dillo holes average 1–3 inches deep and 3–5 inches long. Even worse than that is when they decide your yard and beautiful landscaping look like nice places to live and raise a family. And so they burrow. A nine-banded armadillo burrow is usually about 7 or 8 inches across and can be 15 or more feet deep. This can pose a serious threat to the foundation of your home and cattle, as well as crack driveways or patios. So yeah, the urge to get rid of armadillos is well founded. For some ideas on how to do so, read on.
Getting Rid of Armadillos
Trap armadillos. This is by far the most effective thing you can do for armadillo control. It's fairly straightforward, too. Get a live trap that measures at least 10" x 12" x 36". The more traps you have the better. Place one near the opening of the burrow and place two long, 2" x 6" boards alongside the opening of the trap so that they form a "V." This will funnel the armadillo into the trap. If trapping armadillos with more than one trap, put extras along armadillo pathways, like fences and buildings. Some people suggest stuffing earthworms into a nylon stocking and placing it in the trap for bait.
Relocating armadillos. Now that you've got it, what do you do with it? I suggest taking it as far away from you as possible. Keep your armadillo in the trap, put it in the car, and get it out of there. Be nice, though. Drop it off in a place it will like, preferably somewhere with lots of cover near a water source. They're not very territorial, so there shouldn't be any disputes with other armadillos. Also, make sure you're not giving your troubles to others. Don't drop it off near someone else's house.
Keep armadillos out. While this method is pretty labor intensive, it helps a lot. Put up a chain-link fence. Yes, it might make your backyard look more like a prison yard, but it might be worth it to you. When putting in the fence, you will want to make sure to bury the bottom of it at least 18". The more the merrier. It also helps to put a ninety degree angle at the bottom of the fence so that it sticks out about a foot. Also, because dillos are good climbers, you will want the top foot of the fence to stick out at a forty degree angle. Razor wire optional.
Take matters into your own hands. Literally. I'm not suggesting that you do this, but some people simply chase the little jerks down and catch them by hand. If you do take this route, and again, I don't suggest that you do, make sure to hold it well away from you (by the tail) when you catch it. Sharp claws. If you don't want to use your hands, a good fishing net might work better for you. Another method (that I'm not terribly fond of) that is often employed is to shoot the varmint. Just make sure you know all the laws in your area.
Call in the professionals. This is simply a good idea. There are many people out there who make their living taking care of pests. And they're good at it. Yeah, it's gonna cost you some cash, but they'll make sure it gets done right. That way there is no risk to you or yours. Just bear in mind that once you get rid of one armadillo, there's a darn good chance that another one will eventually take its place and you'll be on the phone again. But hey, you'll also get to feel good about yourself for helping out a local business.
Armadillos and Leprosy
Believe me, I am not trying to scare you into getting rid of armadillos. In fact, it's believed that around 95% of humans are naturally immune. Besides that, it's not terribly contagious. I simply think that this is pretty interesting. In Texas and Louisiana, about 1 in 6 armadillos carry leprosy (Mycobacterium leprae). Leprosy, or Hansen's disease, in humans thrives in the cooler extremities of the body, such as hands, feet, noses, and ears. So it makes sense that armadillos would be ideal hosts. They have a relatively low body temperature (92–95 degrees F).
I am also not trying to tell you to be careless with armadillos. Although it is extremely rare, leprosy can be spread from armadillos to humans, especially if you handle them often or if you don't cook them properly before eating them. According to an article I read by Suzanne Wilson in the Missouri Conservationist (a publication by the Missouri Department of Conservation), Dr. Arvind Dhople (a member of the International Leprosy Association, American Society for Microbiology, and the International Society for Infectious Diseases) estimates there are about 5–10 cases of Leprosy per year coming out of Texas and Louisiana that may be attributed to contact with armadillos. Because of their propensity for leprosy, armadillos are important study subjects for the disease and its cure.