Residents get tools to fight armadillos

Rural homeowners who battle armadillos for dominance of their gardens and yards have two new weapons at their disposal.

Night shooting and traps made of wood.

Before this year, LSU wildlife specialist Don Reed said, it was illegal for people to hunt and kill armadillos at night, the time the animals wake up after sleeping all day and get busy digging holes and burrowing in yards.

The Louisiana Legislature enacted a law last year making it legal to hunt at night with the aid of artificial lighting from the last day of February until the last day of August, Reed said.

This was news to Augie Perez, a Baton Rouge resident who lives in O’Neal Place and has a back door about 75 feet away from a wooded area.

Perez said armadillos have been raiding his home garden every three to four days, digging up flowers and creating extra green thumb work for Perez.

“At first I thought it was a dog or cat. Then I saw the droppings and realized it was armadillos,” Perez said.

“They don’t bother me too much. It’s a nuisance more than anything,” Perez said.

Reed said armadillos can be a nuisance for rural homeowners, but there are no repellants or poisons registered for armadillo control.

Reed said that when homeowners bring out a hose to water a dry landscape, the moist area provides a prime location for armadillos to feed.

“Characteristic armadillo activity in a landscape consists of shallow holes that are 1 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 5 inches wide,” Reed said.

The armadillos dig the holes while searching for food.

Armadillos use their huge front claws to dig for insects, earthworms, fruits, berries, snails, slugs, ants, amphibians and reptiles, Reed said.

A mixture of pink, dark brown and gray, armadillos’ leathery armor plates are designed to protect them from other wildlife.

Armadillos can range in length from 6 inches to 5 feet, although Reed said the average size of armadillos that most Louisiana homeowners are dealing with is about 2 feet including the tail.

Reed said armadillos don’t bite people.

“They are usually going to run away when people come around,” Reed said.

However, if someone picks an armadillo up by the tail, Reed said, don’t be surprised if it tries to snap at the person holding onto its tail.

The other new weapon against armadillos is the wooden trap, Reed said.

Reed said employees at the LSU Agriculture Center’s Hammond Research Station have had success recently with wooden traps because if one armadillo is caught, the wood in the trap will hold that armadillo’s scent.

The first armadillo’s scent will attract other armadillos into the same wooden trap.

Wire mesh traps don’t hold armadillo scent, so they are not as effective, Reed said.

Perez said his wife has more of a problem with armadillos near their home posing possible health issues for the couple’s two children than having to replant flowers in the garden.

“I’m a hunter,” Perez said. “It’s good to know now I can take out the shotgun if I have to.”