Saturday, October 15, 2011

Backyard Bushcraft - Natural Body Armor

          Nine-Banded Armadillo Foraging

The art of bushcraft involves many things. Learning about those creatures in nature that we share our surroundings with is an important part of the process. Many creatures have developed special abilities that are unique or have adapted in special ways to their environment. One such creature is the nine-banded armadillo which is found in many parts of the southeastern United States.

Nine-Banded Armadillo at Dusk

The most unique characteristic about the nine-banded armadillo is that it has natural body armor. This characteristic combined with their surprising speed and the ability to quickly dig a hole to hide in can make it virtually impossible to catch them. Once they get dug in, it is extremely difficult to dislodge them and most predators will quickly give up and search for an easier meal. Many armadillos also have numerous burrows throughout their territory that they inhabit on a frequent basis.

They generally feed at dusk or in the early evening hours and forage mainly for insects, grubs and worms. Their grubbing can cause extensive damage at times and they have an appetite for eggs. If you are raising chickens, this can be a problem if you have armadillos around your area.

Their meat is edible and the taste is somewhat similar to pork and even though they have natural body armor, they are not “bullet-proof”. They are also quite often hunted for their meat. Nice to know that you can have a little variety in your "survival" diet.

When searching for armadillos, it’s best to wait for them to show themselves. Abandoned armadillo burrows are often used as homes by skunks and rattlesnakes. If you aren’t careful, you might find yourself encountering something altogether different than you expected.

The nine-banded armadillo (the actual number of bands can vary) has another very unique ability. It has the ability to inflate its intestines which allows it to simply float across rivers and streams. This makes it one more of nature’s creatures that are...

Staying above the water line!



Josh said...

Ugly little things... I woke up to one who wanted to share my foxhole during the final FTX for infantry basic training at Ft. Benning. I was not happy to see him!

There was an episode of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel where the host was in a small village where the locals were preparing armadillo meat – I don’t recall if it was in Mexico or somewhere in Central or South America.

Armadillos are, however, susceptible to leprosy, and handling them or consuming their meat can lead to infection in humans.

riverwalker said...

To: Josh

Like any wild animal, there are a number of risks. Bites or scratches can cause serious problems from infections, etc. The meat also needs to be thoroughly cooked to get rid of parasites and germs.

Armadillos have been known to carry Hansen's disease (leprosy)and is most likely contracted by handling or contact with an infected animal. A good pair of gloves will reduce this risk when handling.

Armadillos have a body temperature of approximately 93 degrees, as compared to humans at 98.6 degrees, which makes them susceptible to the bacteria that causes Hansen's disease. Hansen's disease is curable when treated with specific antibiotics.

Unfortunately, I've ran into more rabid skunks than anything else.

If armadillos manage to get dug in, you'll need a tow truck to pull them out of their burrow. Their sharp claws make them excellent diggers.

Thanks Josh.


Anonymous said...

They also have notoriously bad vision, which allows predators to more easily approach them. It is good that they have armored backs - they would probably be extinct if that was not the case.

And yep, great diggers, they can move pretty quick.

riverwalker said...

To; anonymous 7:52

If you aren't paying attention, you could even trip over one before he realizes you're even there.

Used to catch them when I was younger with just a plain old cardboard box.

Thanks anon.


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