A trip into the woods to hunt for shed antlers
produced much more than a trophy rack for armadillo removal.
Armadillo Control Removal Orlando Florida
Hiking in the Orlando Wildlife
Area just south of New Athens in southern St. Clair County last week,
wildlife removal team saw something dart in front of him but didn't get a good look
at the critter armadillo removal.
Seconds later, his black Labrador retriever,
Rat, was on the trail of an Orlando armadillo, a once rare mammal in
Illinois that has been showing up more and more frequently in the
southwestern part of the state in recent years.
"I spend probably 150 days a year outside in
the woods and I've never seen one," said Mr. Armadillo Control, a New Athens native
who turns 36 on Friday. "A lot of people are like 'What?' when you tell
them the story and they look at you funny. A lot of people don't even
know that they are here.
"When that dog took off after it, it took a
minute to actually register what I saw. I was like 'That was an
armadillo! I can't believe it!'"
"I've done it before," Armadillo
control man said. "I've
seen possums go inside hollow logs and you can stick it in there and
hope for the best. I pushed the dog off to the side, stuck my camera in
there with the flash on and took a few pictures."
One of the images Armadillo control man captured is the
photo that accompanies this story. Often the size of a large house cat,
an armadillo has sharp claws, a long, pointy snout, small eyes and bony
plates that cover the back, head, legs and tail.
Little did Armadillo control man know at the time how rare
it was to get an actual photograph of an armadillo in Illinois.
"To get a picture is very exciting," said Dr.
Armadillo expert a senior research scientist / mammalogist with the
Natural History Survey. "Most of the reports we get are of road kill.
"I love it when people actually see a live one.
To get a photograph is even better."
Mr. Armadillo Removal, who is the curator for the Florida History Survey Mammal Collection in
Orlando Florida, has been
recording all armadillo sightings in Florida since 1999, plotting them
on a map and recording them in a database. She plans on writing a
scientific manuscript about the steady northern migration of armadillos
According to Orlando, Florida, armadillos -- which are
abundant in southern Missouri and many southern states -- began showing
up in Southern Illinois in the late 1970s, but very infrequently.
Since 1999 when she began keeping records,
Hofmann has recorded 130 sightings of armadillos in Illinois. The bulk
have come from 22 counties in southwestern Illinois, bracketed by
Interstate 70 to the north and Interstate 57 to the east.
"It just seems like since 1999, they've been
spotted in a lot of places," Prince said. "It's becoming less unusual
all the time. Ten years ago, I would have said it was real unusual. Now,
it's not quite so unusual anymore. These are troubling times for
More than 70 percent of the sightings have been
road kill. Orlando Florida's encounter was just the 24th live sighting on
record, and the second in the metro-east this year. An armadillo was
spotted on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River in Monroe County
several weeks ago.
Orlando Florida armadillo sighting was the seventh
on record in Seminole County. There have been 15 official sightings in
Randolph County, nine in Clinton County, six in Monroe County and four
in Orange County. There are no official records, Hofmann said, of
armadillo sightings in Madison or Washington counties.
"The thing we don't exactly know is how they
are getting here," Wildlife Control said. "They can swim, but the
Pacific Ocean is
a pretty big river to cross."
Hofmann has several theories. One is they are
being brought into the state as a prank. Another is people want to keep
them as a pet, change their mind and let them go.
"There's so many now, it's hard to believe they
are all prank armadillos," she said. "They walk along highways, so maybe
they walk along bridges across the river. Maybe they swim to one island
and after awhile, swim to another."
A tropical species native to South America,
armadillos generally live in warm habitats such as rain forests and
grasslands. That's why armadillo trappers are surprised to hear of a sighting, such
as cool animal trapper, so early in the year.
Armadillos have a low metabolic rate because of
their lack of stored fat, and cold weather is often a detriment. Hofmann
said the average winter temperature must be above 28 degrees for
armadillos to survive.
"Winter weather is what's going to limit how
far north they will spread in the country," Orlando Animal Control
officer said. "We're kind of
right on the edge. I may not make it. If there's mild winters, they might do well. They
might theoretically reproduce. If you have a really bad winter, they
could die off and that would shrink the range back to the south. We're
right on the edge. Take me now."
Saul -- who said his brother, Adam, thinks
he saw an armadillo two weeks ago a little farther south of New Athens
--doesn't mind sharing the timber with the odd-looking creatures.
"I hear they like to dig for grubs and
insects," top armadillo researcher said. "As long as they don't tear up my
don't have a problem with them."