The Dark Side of Armadillos

Photo from Wikipedia

Armadillo – Photo from Wikipedia

Since we are home and out of camping mode for a while, I had decided I probably wouldn’t do another post for a while.  But a fellow blogger gave me an idea for one today.

I have been following the Turn When the Road Does blog.  He posted a photo of a resident armadillo at his campsite at Ft. Pickens.

I posted a lighthearted comment advising him not to go fixin’ any armadillo stew because armadillos can carry leprosy.

Several years ago I had read that armadillos were susceptible to leprosy, could be carriers, and that researchers were using them to study the disease.

Since it was news to him, I did a web search and found this CNN article written in 2011.  It states that up to 15% of our southern armadillos may carry leprosy, and it is transferable to humans.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

The armadillo population in the U.S. has been estimated at 30 to 50 million, and studies suggest that, in some places, up to 15 percent have leprosy.

For now the infected animals are concentrated in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama, but the armadillo population appears to be spreading north and east and could bring leprosy with it.

….

He urges his patients not to touch, handle, or eat the animals, and to steer clear of souvenirs made from armadillo carcasses, which are popular in Texas. The new study should help raise awareness, he says.

When he tells his patients that armadillos cause leprosy, he explains, “They kind of look at me like I’m crazy.”

Although armadillos are generally not aggressive and will run from anything that frightens them, I did run into a group of them that I felt threatened by a few years back when I was hiking on Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.  Several of them were in the trail ahead of me in a semicircle chattering excitedly at me.  I stomped my feet and yelled at them and they scattered.

So I am not afraid of armadillos, but I also make it a point to keep a safe distance from them.

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15 Comments

  1. cozygirl

     /  February 6, 2013

    Leprosey…wow! Thanks for the news….and you can bet I’ll be stomping my feet O:)

  2. Your post is always interesting and enlightening. Thanks. If you ever get a moment, check out our blog http://www.campshaws.com. We have a T@DA trailer that we are totally in love with. My goal is to have our blog be as good as yours someday.

    • Judy, you have a wonderful blog. So action packed and such great photos. It takes a while to build up readership. Give yourself a year or so and you will be amazed at your readership! The very best of luck to you!

  3. lynne

     /  February 6, 2013

    I wonde if he was camping close to the nature trail….there was an armadillo just next to us while at
    Fort Pickens. I think Jerry took a picture.
    Very enlightening

    • According to that article in 2011, the leprosy hadn’t spread to armadillos on the east coast. I hope that’s still the case. But anyway, I don’t expect any of us will be getting close enough to one to worry about. I was really just scrambling for something to blog about! 😀

  4. I heard about this from Billy the Exterminater, lol that was such a fun show wonder why it isn’t on anymore?

  5. J. T. Cato

     /  February 7, 2013

    I live in central Alabama. An armadillo lives in my neighborhood also!

  6. Yikes! Thanks for the information.

  7. Oh, my! I didn’t even know leprosy was still a threat. I don’t want anything to do with armadillos…. except maybe to paint a picture of one. They do remind me of an animal that you would have thought to be extinct long ago, and so in that respect would be fascinating to see one.

    • Armadillos do look prehistoric, don’t they? You can tell when they have been around because they dig up the grass. I’m not sure if they eat the roots, or if they eat grubs and such that they unearth.

      I have seen some adorable paintings and sculptures of them!

  8. strivingfortiny

     /  February 14, 2013

    Whoa, that’s a little bit freaky :/

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