I put out a trail camera to see what was coming into my yard at night. On any given night deer, opossums, skunks, raccoons, house cats, dogs, bobcats, foxes, coyotes and armadillos were visiting my yard. I thought about putting out a sign that said come see my zoo. Did you know that all but the last two named animals are native to this area and one of those is non-native to the United States?

The reason for putting out a camera was to find out what was rooting up my flower beds and what had begun rooting up our centipede lawn. The flower garden appeared to have been rooted up by a hog. It was unbelievable destruction as plants and bulbs had been uprooted and trenches had been dug throughout the pine mulch and flowerbeds.

Our centipede lawn had holes that had been dug throughout and the centipede grass had been pulled from the ground in chunks. I quickly concluded that a non-native armadillo was visiting my yard. The armadillo invasion in our area seems to have begun about five years ago and it continues.

Until that time, I had seen dead armadillos on the road near our house but I had not seen evidence of a live armadillo in our yard. Armadillos are an animal that does its damage mostly during the nighttime hours. Sometimes they are seen at dawn and dusk, but for the most part, they are a creature of the night.

I immediately went to the Internet to find out how I could eliminate this armadillo or maybe armadillos. I knew as a last resort I could use my shotgun but I did not want to spend half the night waiting for the armadillo to show up.

I found out that trapping them was a good way, but surprisingly a baited trap would not work. Apparently, they are not attracted to any type of bait even a container of worms and grubs which is their staple food. Supposedly, the armadillo has poor eyesight and will follow a constructed funnel right into the trap. I tried that with no success. 

I decided that a lethal means would have to be used to eliminate them from my yard. I began going out at night to see if I could catch the armadillo digging but had no success. I finally put out a trail camera so I could determine if the armadillos were coming at a specific time. What I found out from photos taken by the camera was that they were coming at different times each night.

I resolved that problem by placing driveway monitors in the areas they were digging and immediately I began to intercept them while they were feeding. Since that time, I have eliminated nineteen armadillos but they just keep coming. It has been like an invasion recently. I have placed a granulated insecticide on my lawn and that kills the worms and grubs that the armadillos feed on and that helps.

Armadillos are not a protected species and can be harvested year-round. Some people think the armadillo is good table fare. During the Great Depression, armadillos were known as “Hoover Hogs” by Americans who had no choice but to eat them. President Hoover promised a “chicken in every pot,” but it turned out to be an “armadillo in every pot.” I think I will stick to chicken.

 The armadillo has migrated into Georgia from Florida and can be found even in Georgia’s northern counties. Unfortunately, the non-native armadillos are here to stay and their numbers are increasing in Georgia, so do your part, and please harvest a few. 

In news this week from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GDNR), there is an additional non-native reptile that has become a problem in Toombs and Tattnall counties in Southeast Georgia. The reptile is the Argentine black and white tegus. The tegus are a lizard native to South America and can grow four feet long and weigh up to 10 pounds.

They can travel by land or water and can live in areas from sea level to 4,100 feet. I think I had rather deal with a 20-pound armadillo. Hopefully, they will be contained in South Georgia and not make their way to middle Georgia like armadillos and fire ants have done. 

The statement from GDNR states the tegus is non-native so they are not protected by Georgia wildlife laws. However, it stated animal cruelty and local ordinances apply. Not really sure what that means. The non-natives just keep on coming. Fire ants and armadillos were bad enough but a four-foot lizard! 

See you next week.

— Outdoors columnist Bobby Peoples can be reached at brpeoples995@gmail.com.

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