Armadillos are on the march to colonize Missouri

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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, MO – They`re a strange sight in the St. Louis region. You wouldn’t expect to see armadillos here.

But they are being seen more and more by residents in the Metro Area.

“They`re strange-looking, unusual looking and yeah they are new to our state in the last 40 or 50 years.  They are here to stay.  They`re making Missouri their home and it`s a natural migration and they`re basically colonizing Missouri,” said Dan Zarlenga, Media Specialist Missouri Department of Conservation.

We first told you about the nine-banded armadillos arriving in the St. Louis region back in 2016.

Since then, sightings of the Texas and Oklahoma based mammals have been on the rise in the region.

“So apparently our winters in Missouri aren`t bad enough to where they can`t survive them,” said Zarlenga.

About 20 to 30 inches in size, if you have insects in your yard like grubs, they`re sometimes a nuisance to gardeners because armadillos will dig to get the insects.  A leathery texture to their skin, the nocturnal armadillo first arrived in Missouri in the 1970s`.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has seen them as far north as the Iowa border.

“They have the unique ability to hold their breath for five or six minutes and they can walk under the water and get across a lot of bodies of water.  They also can inflate themselves with air, gulp air and float along the water.  So, they`re surprisingly good at getting across bodies of water.”

About the size of a well-fed house cat, keep your eyes open along roadways, because armadillos have poor eyesight when startled they jump about three feet in the air.

“Armadillos have been known to carry the same bacteria as leprosy.  That has been documented and that is a possibility.  As far as transmitting that to humans is a concern.  There`s no documented case of that happening in Missouri and where it has been documented to eating armadillo meat that hasn`t been cooked.”

“It’s very common to see them on the I-44 corridor.  Now we see them Joplin, Springfield and up.  A report of one on Highway K in the last few days.  One of the reasons we see them by the road is that when startled they jump right up in the air.  So, they get startled by the car jump up in the air and get hit by the car and they`re gone basically.”

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