Prehistoric-looking animals migrating northward, now common in Kansas

There’s a “new” animal on the block in Kansas, and a strange one at that. Nine-banded armadillos were first reported in the 1940s when northward migration from Texas and Mexico reached the Sunflower State. By the 1990s, armadillos were common, and they continue to expand northward well into Nebraska. Today, armadillos have developed a substantial breeding population in Kansas.

Armadillos are unique in appearance. Bony plates cover most of their bodies. Although they often move slowly, they can run and jump but have no real defense other than their protective shells. They burrow into the ground for living quarters and grub for insects on the soil surface. Many kinds of animals use vacant armadillo burrows for homes.

At one time, cold temperatures and dry conditions were thought to be limiting factors for northward armadillo migration. However, continued expansion into areas with severe winters has cast doubt on this theory. Now, research indicates that soil hardness plays a larger role because armadillos must be able to dig easily wherever they live.

Armadillos are common victims of automobiles. Although their size would allow many larger vehicles to pass over them, a startled armadillo usually leaps upward and collides with a passing car. This results in common mortality along roadways.

Despite their appearance, there is no reason to fear armadillos. Although a nuisance when they grub in lawns or landscaped areas, they seldom cause economic loss. They do not eat crops or vegetation. They are known to carry leprosy, but the odds of passing this to humans is very slim. Learn more about these odd animals by visiting KDWP TV.