Though most armadillos live in either Central or South America, there is one species that is most commonly seen in the United States. The nine-banded armadillo is the type we are most familiar with in the United States, living primarily in the southern United States.
This makes sense given that armadillos typically live in warm and temperate habitats. That includes grasslands, rain forests, and semi-deserts. The grasslands and dry temperatures are particularly why they take up residence in the southern part of the United States.
Why Armadillos Dig
If you live in one of the aforementioned climates, there’s a chance that you may have seen armadillos digging in your yard. Even if you haven’t caught them in the act, you may have found the evidence of their escapades.
Holes in the yard can be frustrating and make the quality and aesthetic of the yard look less-than-great. While it won’t make things better to know why they do this, it can give you a better understanding of these animals before ultimately dealing with them.
Armadillos dig holes mostly because they are looking for food. They look for worms, grubs, and other types of underground bugs and pests to snack on. Armadillos also tend to dig so that they can crawl into a dark, cool spot to sleep. It is not uncommon to find huge labyrinths created by these notorious little diggers.
Knowing You Have an Armadillo Problem
Because armadillos are predominantly nocturnal, you may never actually see one. They tend to sleep about 16 hours each day and will only come out to forage around the times of dusk and dawn. They don’t make a whole lot of noise, so you may have an armadillo problem without ever physically seeing one.
Armadillos will dig holes, obviously. They may not do it in the middle of the yard, instead turning their focus to areas such as gardens. This is because they snack on earthworms, crickets, termites, beetles, ants, and other grubs.
Keeping Them Out of Your Yard
Now that we know where these holes come from and why the armadillos are digging them, it is time to take measures to keep them from doing so. Though they are not a threat to you, your vegetation, or your pets, no one wants to deal with a multitude of holes in the yard.
Start by building a durable fence. The best thing is that the fence doesn’t have to be particularly tall since armadillos can’t jump very high. By having a short fence that is durable and expands deep into the ground, the armadillo won’t be able to dig underneath, either. Just make sure that the fence extends a few feet under the ground and you should be able to keep them off of your property going forward.
Cutting off their food source is another great way to keep them away. Remember, they are looking for grubs and worms that can live just below the surface of the yard. Use pesticides to keep any kind of insect or grub out of your yard and you will have effectively cut off their food source. When they don’t think they can find a reliable source of food, they will move on to other areas.
You can also make your yard as inhospitable as possible. Though they may not make for the prettiest sight, try laying down wood chips around particularly troublesome areas. Armadillos have a difficult time digging through those wood chips. If it becomes too difficult for them to dig effectively, they will move on to other areas.
On the same hand, remove any potential cover. They are similar to a lot of other nocturnal animals in that they are trying to remain hidden from potential predators. Start by removing woodpiles, low-lying bushes, brush, and shrubs in which they can hide.
Keeping your yard wide open gives them fewer options for shelter. When they don’t have proper shelter, they won’t feel safe in the area. The only reason they would stay without proper shelter is access to food. Make sure that you also keep garden areas clean and spray the area with pesticides. This will help to reduce their food source, forcing them to look elsewhere for consistent food.
Mothballs are a common way of getting rid of critters and pests that can permeate a yard. Mothballs are great because they don’t have a strong smell to humans, but they can be quite the repellent for animals such as possums and armadillos.
Normally, you would put the moth balls in a sealable container and poke holes in the lid. Instead, drop the moth balls into the holes where the armadillos frequent. The moth balls should be enough to drive them out of their holes and off to look for a new space.
For those looking to implement a homemade method of repelling the armadillos, cayenne pepper can be great. Sprinkling the cayenne around your home can be effective at getting rid of the little grey pests. When they smell the cayenne, they will leave without hesitation. Best of all, you can get cayenne at your local grocery store for just a couple of bucks.
Predators are also a great way to keep unwanted pests out of your yard. Dogs are great for naturally repelling a wide array of animals, the armadillo included. Armadillos don’t like the smell of the dogs and if they can smell it (and hear it barking), they will likely find a new home in short order.
Dogs are great because they can also literally chase away some pests. Keep in mind that there are some armadillos that can be quite stubborn and may not even care that there are dogs around to pose a threat to their habitat.
With the most difficult of armadillos, trapping them may be the only recourse. There are bait traps that you can place throughout your yard to capture them safely. If you’re looking to displace them without doing harm to them, this can be perhaps the most effective measure.
Make sure that you place the trap in an area where the possum frequents. Be sure to line the trap using their favorite foods (insects and earthworms) so that they will not hesitate to go for the trap. There are, of course, lethal traps, but those are only to be used in extreme measures.
If you’re looking for something more natural to get rid of your armadillo problem, there are a few different remedies. For instance, try castor oil. Castor oil is all natural and it penetrates quite deeply into the ground.
Castor oil is great because it works in two different ways to effectively rid the area of armadillos. The first is that they do not like the smell of castor oil. If they smell it, they will likely vacate the immediate area and look for other sources of food.
The castor oil can also spoil their food sources. When the castor oil gets onto those grubs and insects, they can be quite unpleasant to eat. When the armadillo doesn’t have a consistent source of food available to them, they will move on to other areas.