There are about 20 species of armadillo worldwide, but here in the United States, we have only one. The Nine-Banded Armadillo ranges across most of the southeastern United States. In Alabama, they can be found in 59 of 67 counties – usually belly-up on the side of the road. Many armadillos meet their untimely demise on the roadways because of their natural instinct to leap into the air when startled. This adaptation serves them well when they encounter a predator. The behavior may alarm the predator long enough to give the armadillo time to escape. The behavior gives the armadillo a decided disadvantage in an encounter with a car.
Armadillos are mostly nocturnal, solitary creatures, and rarely present a real problem for humans. They eat grubs and insects that they hunt by digging holes and tunnels through loose soil. If an armadillo is messing about in your garden or orchard, it may quickly come to resemble a minefield with small three toed prints throughout it. Armadillos can be difficult to trap, but using the tactic show in the video link to the left may be helpful. Also, remember that cedar mulch or bark is a wonderful habitat for bugs and grubs that attract armadillos. If your garden or flower bed is where you suffer the most damage, consider switching to a gravel mulch.
For the most part, the damage these animals inflict is cosmetic and of no real economic impact; however, their burrows can reach up to 25 feet in length under ground and can lead to flood or drainage issues depending on the contours of the property. Extensive burrows under concrete foundations can lead to structural damage in very rare cases. Armadillos are also rumored to be carriers of the bacteria responsible for human leprosy; however, the bacteria can only be transmitted to humans that eat undercooked armadillo meat.