Armadillos in the Landscape

Armadillos are God’s way of proving that you don’t have to be handsome, intelligent or wealthy to outsmart most humans. Having suffered probably thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to turf and landscaped beds at the feet and snouts of these beasts, we haven’t put them exactly at the top of our A-list for parties.

We have a couple of humane traps that we’ve used for 25 years, and we’ve captured somewhere around 80 armadillos over that time. But, never before by hand! Pulled right out of its tunnel hidden beneath a stone retaining wall.


Tricks we’ve learned in trapping them: get a raccoon-sized humane trap. No bait is required, but raw bacon would help. Try to locate the armadillo’s routing back toward its hole, even if you can’t locate the hole (usually beneath the foundation, wall, large shrub, creek bank, etc.).

Put the trap in the middle of the suspected pathway, and construct a 20-foot wing wall out to both sides. It will function as a funnel, to cause the armadillo to seek a way through. That’s where the trap comes in, and there you have it – if you’re patient, even moving the trap if it comes up empty for a week or two, eventually: freshly captured armadillo.

That’s when the options begin. I’m not a killer, so our armadillos are given a second chance at life. Way far away. They go to the Corps of Engineers public land, 8 or 10 miles from here, and a mile or more from farm land and homes, where they’re released.

Oh, and by the way, it’s been my longtime observation that the armadillos aren’t seeking grubs in our lawn, as some might say. Or, at least that they’re not digging toward grubs that they smell or hear. I think they’re just digging, because that’s what armadillos do. Our worst damage out here in our rural landscape doesn’t start until mid- to late summer, because that’s when the farm fields begin to get dry and hard. Digging is easier in Neil’s gardens. Let’s go there. But, I’m not at all an advocate of treating for some unknown soil-borne pest in the hopes of stopping the armadillos. They’re going to dig until you give them a one-way trip to their new homes.

While they do require patience, traps are the best way of coping with armadillos. Better, by far, than grabbing them from their tunnels, kicking and screaming little armadillo screams.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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