Have you seen an armadillo ’round these parts? State wildlife officials would like to know.
If you think you have spotted a “possum on the half-shell” or “armored pig” in the Tar Heel State, you may be right. This Central and South American native has gradually expanded its range northward, especially as North Carolina experiences fewer lengthy stretches of below-freezing conditions.
As of last year, officials had confirmed the presence of armadillos in 28 North Carolina counties, from Cherokee to Dare. And while most confirmed sightings have been in the western part of the state, their presence is likely in more counties, officials said, citing both credible and unconfirmed observations.
Now, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission asks that folks report any sightings of nine-banded armadillos to help commission biologists determine how far their range has expanded in the state. Since 2007, the commission has received more than 898 reports in 70 counties.
“Whether armadillos continue spreading beyond their current range will be largely determined by climate,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist. She said it was likely the armadillo is expanding its range naturally throughout North Carolina, “rather than being helped by human intervention.”
Wildlife officials said that armadillos lack thick insulation and must dig for most foods. Freezing conditions can cause them to starve or freeze to death, so mild winter temperature conditions are ideal for them.
If you observe an armadillo in the wild and are able to capture a photo, you can upload and share your images at the iNaturalist NC Armadillo Project website.
You can also download the iNaturalist app available for iPhone and Android.
Another option for reporting an observation is by emailing email@example.com and including the following:
- A photo of the armadillo, if available.
- The date and time when it was observed.
- The location where it was observed, including GPS coordinates if possible or a detailed location description.