Illinois professor studies armadillo’s northward migration

A Brazilian Three banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus), aka Tatu-Bola in Portuguese, walks on September 18, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. The Tatu-Bola -an endangered species-- was chosen as the mascot of the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.    AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

A Brazilian Three banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus), aka Tatu-Bola in Portuguese, walks on September 18, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. The Tatu-Bola -an endangered species-- was chosen as the mascot of the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014. AFP PHOTO/VANDERLEI ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) _ A professor at Southern Illinois University has launched a new study investigating the curious case of an armadillo’s northern migration.

Associate zoology professor F. Agustin Jimenez says there are 23 species of armadillo in the southern hemisphere. Only one of them, the nine-banded armadillo, is moving northward. They’ve even been spotted in Mount Vernon in south-central Illinois.

Jimenez tells the Southern Illinoisan (http://bit.ly/223MqOF ) that “warmer and shorter winters” might have facilitated their survival in the northern hemisphere. Scientists originally thought the migrating armadillos would die in the cold winters. But, now, armadillos are being spotted in early spring.

With no natural predators in this area, Jimenez said their populations are increasing rapidly.

Jimenez’s own study specifically looks at the types of parasites the armadillos are carrying into the region.