Monday, September 04, 2006
Texas: No Longer the Home of the Armadillo
The armadillo is waddling its way north: "The official small mammal of Texas is becoming a Yankee.
Blame global warming. Or maybe just wanderlust.
Texans feel proprietary about the armored mammal, but we hardly have a monopoly on its range. It's not even a native.
The nine-banded armadillo, the most prolific of the 20 species of armadillo and the only one to live in the United States, crossed the Rio Grande about 150 years ago.
In recent years, though, it has been spotted as far north as Illinois.
'I don't know exactly how they get here,' said Joyce Hofmann, a research scientist with the Illinois Natural History Survey's center for wildlife and plant ecology. 'I don't know if they're really surviving and breeding here.'
But she has gathered more than 100 reports of sightings — mostly roadkill — since 1999.
A few have been found as far north as Chicago, but most have been in southern Illinois.
Emboldened by the disappearance of its predators, the 'dillo spread first across the Southeast and now is marching through the Midwest, where the biggest threat isn't bobcats and foxes but freezing weather."