Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

June 29, 2010

“Little Armored Thing”

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

A “little armored thing” is the meaning of the word armadillo.  And for those who are not acquainted with armadillos, then you will get a perspective on them from this blog.  My reporting may provide you some interesting facts, but you will also learn quickly that for me they are a number one pest!

Yes, we have armadillos in our yard.  They can be very destructive, and very difficult to remove or irradicate.  Knowing something about these creatures gives insight to the difficulty of controlling them.

Most people see armadillos along the highway–usually dead.  But they are unusual creatures.  They are called “little armored thing”  because of their leathery armored shell.  They have a bony shell that serves as armor. It is true bone.  The bony plates that make up the shell are called skutes.  These scutes share much history of the armadillo.

Skutes have been found in South America that with scientific research and testing reveal that armadillos have been around for more than 50 million years!  Through reconstruction from the size of these skutes, the pre-historic armadillos were probably the size of a Volkswagen Beetle!  Through the ages they began to be smaller than the earlier version known as a glyptodon, but have retained their shell.  By the time they arrived in prehistoric land known as North America, they were probably only about six feet long and weighed between 500-600 pounds.  There are more of these fossils found in Florida than any other place in North America.

The armadillo in our yard is a later version. Thankfully!  They are about the size of the average house cat, or about 15-17 inches long, with a tail of 14-16 inches long, and weigh between 8-17 pounds.  They have gone through some great physical changes.  But what wouldn’t in millions of years!

The armadillos in our yard are typical of those seen along the roadways of America.  These have short, strong legs and claws so that they can dig for grubs, insects, and beetles.  They have very poor vision and are nocturnal.  One reason many are seen dead along the road is because they will also eat  carrion (roadkill).  They have the ability to jump when threatened and often as a car will pass, they jump up and end up jumping in front of or on the side of the car.

Now before you become a defender of the armadillo, you must understand how destructive they can be.  They will dig under the foundation of a home and create tunnels that can severely undermine your home.  They can destroy a yard through their digging for food.  They are very reproductive, and because of their tunnels and movement at night, they are extremely hard to trap, relocate, or kill.  Neighbors have attempted from professional advice to flood the tunnels with water.  Armadillos can swim, but they can only survive four to six minutes underwater.  However, because of the several tunnels, they will usually escape.

So how do we attempt to control them?  And control is the key word.  We frequently line our yard with moth balls!  That’s right!  We drop moth balls on the ground about every 12-15 inches.  Armadillos cannot tolerate the smell of moth balls!  And the neighbors don’t care much for the odor either!

As we have shared earlier, the armadillos, along with opossums, foxes, raccoons, alligators, and almost all other creatures are just part of living in beautiful Florida!  But, these armadillos have raised some questions for me to consider.

The large, prehistoric armadillos!  Did Noah have them on the ark?  Scientists do reveal that the prehistoric armadillo would have been limited in the ability to swim because of the weight.  Thus, did they become a passenger on the ark? I assume the door of the ark was large enough for two elephants to walk side by side into the ark, so I assume you could have driven two VW Beetles, side by side, into the ark!  And food for them?  What a collection of insects and bugs!

Well, all that doesn’t really matter, but we know that armadillos survived the flood!  But why, God?  And why do they have to live in my yard?

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, and livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.”  (Genesis 1:25)  ”  . . . they entered the ark.  They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kind, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind . . . .”  (Genesis 7:13,14)

Lawson

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