Friday, August 5, 2011

Nine Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

I’ve always wanted to see an Armadillo. At least, a live one.

When we moved to Georgia about 25 years ago, we rarely saw any sign of armadillos. We’d see them occasionally as roadkill in counties on the coastal plain but rarely in the Piedmont counties. Over the last 25 years, we’ve seen them gradually move up into the Piedmont counties. Last year, I saw one that had been hit by a vehicle in Monroe, Walton County.

But I’d never seen a live armadillo until this year. We caught a glimpse of three juveniles snuffling around in the undergrowth in the Broad River WMA in Wilkes County in late May but couldn’t get a photo.

This afternoon, however, as we were driving out of the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, we spotted one digging for grubs in a mowed field by the roadside near the shooting range. We pulled off the road.

It was working its way towards us.

A little closer still. Its nosing around in the grass, looking for food. It was totally engrossed. Clearly, it hadn’t noticed us.

Unfortunately the sun was behind it. I decided to try and work my way around it in a wide circle to get a shot or two in good lighting.

It had turned around and was working its way back the way it had come. At about this time, I made some noise and its ears pricked up. It was quite alert.

The final shot just as it decided it was time to beat a hasty retreat. It's remarkable how quickly they can run.

A close up from the previous photo. This photo clearly shows the long claws it uses to dig grubs.
Click on an image to view a larger image


Joy Window said...

Nice pics! I was on Cumberland Island off the Georgia coast a year ago, and one of the things I wanted to see was an armadillo. I was told they only came out at night, so the chances were slim.

I did see one, but it was unfortunately dead, very freshly so. It was also very much a juvenile.

I poked it with my finger, and was surprised that the 'plates' were soft and leathery rather than hard and stiff like I had imagined.

JSK said...

I'm sorry that you didn't get to see a live armadillo. They are fascinating. This was one of the times that I regretted that I don't take videos. This little guy snuffled around in the grass hunting food quite rapidly and erratically, going this way and that. It was fascinating to watch and I could have gotten some good footage.
I was surprised to see him too. These photos were taken at 6:20 pm. I think he was just starting out for the night. There was still 2 or more hours of light.