(Photo: Jay Butfiloski)
Scientific Name: Dasypus novemcinctus
Abundance: Confirmed observations across the state (see map)
Species Profile (PDF)
Nine-banded Armadillo (Hans Stieglitz)
The Nine-banded Armadillo is a unique mammal, with its armor-like skin and long, scaly tail. It is named for the bands (range from 7-11) across its midsection. It has deer-like ears and and has been nicknamed “Armored pig” for its long, pig-like snout, which it keeps to the ground to forage by smell. They often travel slowly, in an erratic, wandering pattern as they forage, and sometimes can be heard grunting like a pig. Armadillos have small, peg-like teeth that are used to mash and grind their food, capturing most of their prey with their long, sticky and flexible tongue.
Armadillos are classified in the same order as anteaters and sloths, and are the only mammals that have a shell, which are hardened skin plates covering their bodies that give them an armored appearance. There are 20 species of armadillos, but only the Nine-banded Armadillo lives in the southeast US. The Nine-banded Armadillo, native to Central and South America, was first recorded in Texas in 1849, but have since expanded their range north and east, crossing the Mississippi River sometime in the early 1940’s, appearing in western Tennessee in 1980 and reaching North Carolina in the late 2000s, primarily from natural dispersal from adjacent states. Learn more about the nine-banded armadillo by reading the species profile.
The Nine-Banded Armadillo is considered a nongame species with no closed season or bag limit.
Armadillo hunting regulations
Armadillo trapping regulations
The most common type of damage caused by armadillos is to property as a result of their foraging and feeding habits, in which they dig shallow holes 1 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 5 inches wide. To find insects, grubs, and earthworms, they will dig into gardens, flower beds, and lawns. Their burrowing can damage tree roots and may uproot ornamental plants. Armadillos causing property damage can be trapped during the regulated trapping season (Nov. 1 through end of Feb.) or with a depredation permit. However, trapping can be ineffective due to the movement pattern of armadillos. In one study, unbaited cage traps had similar capture success as baited cage traps. To increase effectiveness, place a cage trap along pathways leading to a burrow or along a fence line. Adding wings, such as 6-foot long boards, that funnel the armadillo to the entrance of an unbaited cage trap may increase capture success. Please note it is illegal to relocate an armadillo.
Armadillos can be hunted year-round and shooting may be a more effective solution if an armadillo is causing property damage. There are no known effective repellents and poisoning is illegal and would kill other wild and domestic animals. Creating barriers around smaller areas, such as flower beds and gardens, can discourage armadillos. Leprosy has been associated with armadillos, but it is relatively uncommon, with one study showing 0% to 10% of armadillos were infected in the southeast. To reduce exposure to diseases, the Commission recommends that gloves be worn when in direct contact with any wild animal, including armadillos. When working in the garden, gloves should be worn to prevent exposure to various diseases and parasites that can persist in the soil.
Visit our Tips on Co-Existing with Wildlife page for more information.
The Commission is seeking observations of armadillos from the public. If you believe you observed an armadillo, please contact the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina Armadillo Range Expansion 2007-2022 Report (PDF)
Armadillo species profile (PDF)
NC Armadillo Project in iNaturalist
Map of Confirmed, Credible, and Unconfirmed Armadillo Observations 2007 - 2021 (PDF)
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management