On their own, armadillos are relatively harmless animals. The problem is, they can become pests for homeowners in certain situations. Armadillos are strong diggers and can do a lot of damage to a garden or lawn if they find their way onto your property when looking for food. That’s why pest control experts recommend familiarizing yourself with ways of repelling and trapping them if you do notice signs of their presence. You should also know that armadillos can spread disease. This doesn’t happen often, but it is by no means impossible. Obviously, they aren’t the kinds of pests you want to have on your property.
Luckily, there are many ways you can get rid of them without calling pest control. There are also steps you can take to make sure armadillos don’t make your lawn their home in the first place. This article will provide suggestions you can apply in order to keep armadillos off your property for good. But first, it’s worth learning more about what they eat and where they live. Knowing what attracts armadillos to your property can help you better understand what steps you can take to keep them away.
What Armadillos Eat
Armadillos eat several different organisms depending on what’s available in their area. The average armadillo will make an attempt to find a habitat that offers the ideal diet for its needs. Thus, if they find that your property offers these types of foods, they aren’t likely to leave unless you take action.
It’s worth noting that, although armadillos have been known to eat fruits, vegetables, and other plants, they typically prefer to eat insects and invertebrates. Ants and earthworms are especially common in their diets. That said, there are some instances in which armadillos will also eat smaller reptiles and amphibians, as well as carrion.
Armadillos that have found prey in the ground will often use their claws and feet to access the prey. This is the main reason some people consider them to be pests. If an armadillo locates a good source of food on your property, they can do a lot of damage trying to dig up the ground to get to it more easily. Armadillos are also known for their strong power of smell which assists them in finding food. If armadillos are nearby and your property offers the kind of food their typical diet consists of, there’s a good chance they’ll find it (Source).
Of course, when you know what kind of food armadillos eat, you have a better chance of trapping them. This article will provide more information on that topic later. First, however, it’s also important to learn about where armadillos tend to live.
Where You Might Find Armadillos
Again, armadillos typically strive to remain in areas where they will have regular, easy access to food.
They have a relatively low metabolic rate and aren’t able to store food as effectively as other animals. This makes cold climates inhospitable to armadillos. In periods where the temperature drops below average for a long period of time, armadillo populations in a given area can decrease substantially.
Thus, they prefer to remain in relatively temperate climates. Grasslands, semi-deserts, and rainforests all make comfortable homes for armadillos.
They tend to be most active in the early morning hours. For approximately 16 hours a day, the average armadillo will sleep in a burrow. Early morning is when they emerge to forage. If you’re trying to catch armadillos on your property, this may be the best the time to keep an eye out for them (Source).
Should I Be Worried?
It’s worth noting that although armadillos have not been known to bite humans, they definitely have the ability to, and thus, it’s a good idea to keep a safe distance from them when trying to deter or trap them. You also want to make sure you’re not exposed to any illnesses the animals may be carrying, although this isn’t likely to be a problem. While you’re probably safe, armadillos have been known to carry leprosy. You don’t want to expose yourself to them to directly (Source).
That said, while armadillos may be relatively safe and will probably be more afraid of you than you are of them should you encounter one, you still don’t want to have them on your property. The damage they can do to your lawn can certainly have a major impact on its appearance. On top of that, large armadillo burrows can destabilize certain areas of your property. Thus, simply ignoring this problem can be very costly. You definitely want to take steps to protect your lawn if armadillos are common in your area.
Signs of an Armadillo Infestation
Again, armadillos spend a large portion of the day in their burrows. This can make them difficult to spot. That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of an infestation.
The most common sign of an armadillo problem is holes in the yard. The holes armadillos dig can reach three inches in depth and five inches in length. In other words, while they may not be big enough to endanger most people walking through the lawn, they can absolutely have a negative impact on the appearance of your property.
It’s also important to understand that when armadillos dig a large number of holes in a given area, they can actually impact the stability of a foundation surrounding a small structure or driveway. This means the damage they do isn’t simply restricted to cosmetic issues (Source).
Their burrows and the holes they dig can be especially damaging if they get too close to the driveway. They might also get too close to the patio area. This is not something you want to have happen. These areas of your property need a solid foundation to rest on. They can begin to sink in if a burrow destabilizes them (Source).
In other words, the kind of damage these animals can do if you ignore the problem is often costly. Again, this doesn’t mean you have to live with the problem. There are plenty of ways you can get rid of armadillos if they show up in your yard. That said, your ideal goal is likely to keep armadillos off your property in the first place. The following tips will help you achieve this goal.
Fence Your Property In
A fence is one of the most obvious and effective ways to protect your lawn from a wide range of pests. In the case of armadillos, the fence doesn’t even need to be that tall. They simply lack the ability to jump high enough to scale most fences. That said, it is important to make sure the fence is installed relatively deep, so armadillos can’t burrow under it. You should also choose a sturdy material that isn’t easy to damage. Armadillos are relatively small, and if gaps in the fence form, they can sneak their way in (Source).
Use Cayenne Pepper
Armadillos don’t actually see or hear very well. Instead, they rely on their sense of smell to track prey.
You can actually use this trait to your advantage if you’re trying to keep them out of your lawn. Strong smells can overwhelm armadillos and drive them away from a property. All you have to do is sprinkle some cayenne pepper around areas where you think an armadillo might want to look for food (Source).
You should keep in mind that the more liberally you sprinkle cayenne pepper, the easier it will be to deter armadillos.
It’s also worth noting that there are some similar remedies people use that actually have been known to be ineffective. For instance, some people believe that if they find an armadillo burrow, dumping in mothballs or placing a rag soaked in ammonia near the burrow will drive the armadillo out of it. While it’s understandable why some people would believe this could be effective, in reality, it isn’t likely to work. Stick with natural ingredients like cayenne pepper and distribute them throughout your property to keep armadillos away instead (Source).
Try Pine Needles or Pine Bark
Some people who have had success keeping armadillos away from their yards insist that the smell of pine needles and/or pine bark can also deter them. On top of this, adding pine needles or bark to the yard may make it difficult for the armadillo to dig through the soil. As a result, even if the smell doesn’t keep them away, the difficulty of accessing food on your property might. Simply get some pine needles or bark and scatter them throughout your lawn to make it less hospitable to these pests (Source).
Make a Homemade Repellent
There is some evidence to suggest that using other simple materials you may have around the house to make a repellent can be an effective and affordable way to keep armadillos off your property.
For this remedy, mix 16 ounces of industrial grade castor oil with four ounces of liquid dish detergent. Place the ingredients in the kind of bucket you would use with your garden hose and fill it up to the top with water. Mix the ingredients thoroughly, then fill up some spray bottles with the mixture and spray it throughout your lawn. If you have pets or children, make sure the ingredients are safe before letting them out in the lawn after spraying this mixture. It should work like cayenne pepper, overwhelming the animal’s sense of smell and driving it away from your property (Source).
Armadillos are primarily nocturnal creatures. They particularly like to forage for food when it’s darker out. Thus, they may stay away from a property if they never get this opportunity. That’s why some experts recommend installing strong lighting around your property. Yes, you’ll have to make sure you find an affordable option, and you don’t want to install lights that are so bright they’ll be distracting to the neighbors, but this can be an effective method for making your lawn less attractive to these pests. Additionally, if you’re trying to remove armadillos that are already on your property, having strong lighting can definitely make it easier to find them during the darker times of day (Source).
Did you recently throw a backyard party? If so, odds are good you left behind a lot of crumbs and debris that could be very attractive to insects. You know, the same kinds of insects that armadillos love to snack on.
This is why it’s important to clean up after yourself every time you spend a day in the backyard. You’ll be less likely to have an armadillo problem if you keep the lawn clean. The kinds of bugs armadillos eat simply won’t be drawn to your lawn in the first place if you don’t give them any sources of food (Source).
Remove Food Sources
Speak with a pest control expert about possible food source on your property that would attract armadillos. There are some cases in which it is possible to remove these food sources. Quite simply, an armadillo won’t be attracted to your property if they don’t smell any prey.
Because armadillos like to prey on small insects, it can be difficult to remove all their prey. However, you can absolutely take steps to make your lawn less hospitable to the kinds of insects that armadillos prey on. For example, if you use dark mulch, it will absorb the warmth of the sun and create the kind of environment that makes a wonderful home for insects. Covering your garden with rocks or gravel can prevent insects from making their home in the soil beneath. Thus, armadillos will be less likely to target your property (Source).
Some experts also recommend adding some parasitic worms to your property. These bugs eat the types of bugs that armadillos like to prey on. This is yet another way you can remove a food source (Source).
Other wildlife control specialists insist that simply practicing basic lawn care and maintenance can be enough to keep armadillos at bay. For instance, many people apply insecticide to their properties to keep them free of bugs. Doing this regularly can eliminate a major source of food for armadillos. Again, if they don’t smell any food on your lawn, they won’t target it. Just make sure any chemicals you apply to your lawn are safe, especially if you have children or pets who spend time out in the yard (Source).
You can also make areas of your property less hospitable to armadillos. For instance, covering the surface of your garden or areas of your lawn with wood chips will make it difficult for armadillos to dig through the surface and reach the food beneath. They’ll likely give up and head to other properties that are easier to dig through instead (Source).
Protect Plants with Chicken Wire
Again, armadillos tend to focus on insects and invertebrates when seeking food sources. That’s why some people make the mistake of assuming their plants will be safe from harm even if armadillos look for food on their property.
This is not the case. The digging and burrowing that armadillos do when looking for food can damage root systems. If you have valuable plants in your garden and you don’t have a fence to protect them, you should at least install chicken wire around them for protection. This will help keep armadillos away (Source).
Protect the Interior of Your Home
It’s worth noting that you should make an effort to protect the inside of your home from armadillo intruders as well. Granted, they don’t commonly make their way into homes, but it can happen. You certainly don’t want to find an armadillo in the house at any point. Thus, it’s a good idea to inspect your property for any signs of damage that could allow an armadillo to get inside. Make sure you seal these thoroughly. You should also cover the opening to any large vents with chicken wire (Source).
Rely on a Dog
Obviously, you should consult with a veterinarian or other pet specialist before using this tactic. Not all dogs are comfortable staying outdoors for long periods of time, and some smaller dogs may actually be intimidated by armadillos.
That said, it tends to work the other way around. Large outdoor dogs have been known to chase armadillos away from properties. In fact, they may not even need to chase them at all. Armadillos know that dogs can harm them. When they smell a dog or hear it barking, they’ll stay away. If you have a large dog that enjoys staying outdoors during the day, they can be a strong deterrent against armadillos (Source).
Use a Strong Sprinkler
Armadillos are not territorial animals by nature. Although they try to remain in areas where they know they will have access to food, they don’t make major attempts to maintain their presence when confronted by a threat. That’s why an aggressive outdoor dog can keep them away.
However, you may not have a dog, or you may not feel comfortable letting yours stay out in the yard all day long. That’s why some people recommend investing in a strong motion-activated sprinkler or water spraying device. If an armadillo sets it off, the animal may scurry away when the water shoots out at it. This is a worthwhile tactic to attempt if you’re looking to scare armadillos away without the help of another animal (Source).
Use Another Electronic Device
A strong sprinkler can definitely be an effective tool for keeping armadillos out of your lawn. However, there are also other devices you can buy that don’t spray water, but do make a lot of noise that can scare the animal off when it comes in close proximity to the device. This may be the better option for your needs if you don’t want to use too much water or you feel the constant spray from a strong sprinkler could potentially damage areas of your lawn. Just make sure the noise the device makes isn’t a nuisance and won’t distract the neighbors if an armadillo crosses the device’s path in the middle of the night (Source).
Plant Some Garlic
You already know that armadillos have a very strong sense of smell. Overwhelming them with a strong or unpleasant scent can make them less likely to target your property. Even if the smell isn’t necessarily unpleasant, it can certainly cover up other scents that might otherwise attract armadillos.
That’s why some wildlife experts recommend planting garlic along the edges of your property. Doing so creates a natural border that armadillos are very unlikely to cross (Source).
Use an Electric Fence
No, this isn’t to suggest that you should install a high-powered fence along your property line. However, a low-voltage electric fence that’s designed specifically to keep small animals out can definitely help you protect your yard in a discreet but effective manner. Just make sure you run the fence wire low to the ground so that an armadillo is more likely to come in contact with it. Even if they smell food on your property, they’ll stay away if they keep getting a shock every time they try to get on your property. Just make sure you use a fence designed specifically for this purpose. You want the shock to be strong enough to deter the animal, but not so strong that you cause it genuine harm (Source).
Use the Scent of Natural Predators
Again, you don’t have to have a large pet of your own to scare armadillos away. If you don’t have a dog and don’t think the sprinkler option is ideal for your needs, consult with a pest control specialist to learn about animals in your area that naturally prey on armadillos. You can likely find a supplier who sells the urine of these animals. Place several small containers of the urine throughout your property. When an armadillo smells it, it will assume a natural predator is in the area (Source).
Use Your Own Hair
Some wildlife specialists claim that even the smell given off by human hair can be enough to convince an armadillo that there is a predator in the area. Thus, if you don’t want to spend money on the urine of a predator, simply taking a few strands of your hair and distributing them throughout your property can be enough to keep armadillos away.
Odds are good you may have some hair brushes or combs that have collected a few stray hairs. There’s no harm in grabbing them and tossing them around the lawn to see if this remedy works (Source).
Of course, while all these methods here can be helpful if you don’t yet have an armadillo infestation, they may not be as effective if armadillos have already burrowed into your property. Some of the methods, like using the scent of predators, will scare them away, but there are other steps you can take to remove armadillos if they’ve already decided to start taking up residence in your lawn. Keep the following tips in mind in order to do so successfully.
Get a Live Trap
You want to be as humane as possible when removing armadillos from your property. Thus, it can be smart to purchase a live trap at a local hardware or department store. The ideal trap will be about 12” x 10” x 30”, large enough to capture the animal. Live traps allow you to cage in an armadillo without harming it. Once you have, you can consult with a pest control specialist to determine the best place to release the animal. The specialist might also be willing to remove it for you (Source).
For the best results, try to find the armadillo’s burrow. It may be located around a structure like a shed. Placing the trap in front of the entrance/exit to the burrow increases your odds of trapping the animal.
You might assume that you’ll be more likely to capture the armadillo if you place some form of bait in the trap, like worms. This is an understandable assumption to make, but it actually may not be as effective as you think. That’s because armadillos are so naturally accustomed to digging for food that they often pay no mind to food that is found on the surface. Additionally, if you try to use bait, there’s a good chance you’ll simply attract another animal instead, like a raccoon.
You may need to try different positions throughout the lawn before you find the right spot. Keep in mind that armadillos tend to stick to the outskirts of a property instead of walking directly through the middle of it. Thus, you should focus on these areas when looking for the right position.
It’s also important to not forget about the animal when you set the trap. Again, you want to be as humane as possible when trying to remove an armadillo from your property. That means making sure you don’t let it spend too much time in the trap. Check it regularly and contact pest control the moment you notice it has been trapped.
NOTE: It is worth mentioning that some local and state governments prohibit people from trapping armadillos on their own unless they are licensed professionals. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly research all applicable regulations first before setting a trap. You want to get armadillos off your property, but you also want to make sure you’re not breaking the law when trapping them (Source).
Fill in Burrows
Even if you succeed in getting rid of one armadillo, that doesn’t mean that others won’t try to make their homes on your property if they still find that it’s a good source of food. That’s why you should fill in any and all burrows that you find. Filling the burrows you find with mixtures of dirt and pea gravel will make it difficult for other armadillos to dig them up. Eventually, they’ll decide that your property is not hospitable, moving on to other areas (Source).
Remove Their Shelter
When armadillos spend a lot of time on your property, they often like to remain in sheltered or shaded areas, like in bushes. This means you can more easily find them (and keep them away from your lawn) if you’re willing to make some modifications to your current landscaping. Trimming or removing large areas of bushes or shrubs can be an effective way of making your lawn less hospitable to armadillos. If you already have them, this also means they’ll have fewer places to hide. The easier it is to spot them, the easier it is to trap them and remove them from your property (Source).
Call a Professional
Some people are simply more experienced than others when it comes to tracking and removing pests like armadillos. Some of them are even professionals. This is certainly an option to consider if you’re not having much success removing the animal on your own, or if you simply don’t want to deal with the task of trying different methods to see what works. This is likely going to cost you more than these options will, but for some people, knowing that someone with professional experience is addressing the problem is worth the expense. Look into animal and pest control companies in your area and find out if they have experience handling armadillos.
Flush Them Out
Again, you should definitely make an attempt to find the armadillo burrows on your property. It’s simply much easier to catch them when you know where they are hiding. Plus, if you know where the burrow is, you can place the trap in front of it so the armadillo walks straight into the trap instead of avoiding it.
However, some wildlife control specialists also recommend simply turning on the garden hose and running some water into the burrow. You don’t want to drown the animal, but you do want to use enough water to make the inside of the burrow an unpleasant place to be. This is a simple way to flush the animal out. Granted, you can’t be certain the armadillo will be in the burrow at the time you turn the water on, so you may have to try this multiple times before you get the results you want. That said, if you use enough water and the armadillo is inside, this simple method will definitely get them to scurry out into whatever trap you have ready for them (Source).
Make the Burrow Uninhabitable
If you find the burrow but can’t waste time constantly running water and hoping the armadillo is inside, you could instead place wire mesh over the entrance/exit. Drive stakes in every corner except one. Ideally, the armadillo will be able to push its way out of the burrow through the mesh. However, when it returns, it won’t be able to get back in. If you make the armadillo’s borrow uninhabitable, you can make the animal less likely to continue targeting your yard. Once you know the armadillo hasn’t returned you can remove the wire mesh and fill the burrow in with gravel (Source).
Mow the Lawn
As you’ve probably realized by now, a big part of removing armadillos from your property involves finding out where they live in the first place. It’s much easier to plant a trap in the right place when you know what paths the animal takes to cross your property.
That’s why staying on top of basic lawn care is smart when you have an armadillo problem. Simply mowing your lawn on a regular basis can make it much easier to find a burrow, or to find the area of your lawn where armadillos tend to be searching for food. Once you have a better sense of what areas of the lawn the armadillo tends to spend most of its time in, you’ll be much more likely to find ways of getting rid of them (Source).
Install Pest Control Cameras
If mowing the lawn hasn’t helped you find where armadillos are making their home on your property, you could purchase security cameras that are specifically designed for filming at night. There are even some that are capable of helping you spot pests. Of course, this can be an expensive option, so it’s better to consider this if you have a regular pest problem and can justify the expense. A private homeowner without a lot of property may not need cameras to help them track down armadillos. However, if you own a golf course or other large property that can often be targeted by armadillos and other pests, installing cameras to help you track them may be a worthwhile option to consider. Ask someone in management if they think you have money in the budget for this idea. Explain that you’ll offset the costs by reducing the amount of damage the animals actually do to your property.
What You Shouldn’t Do
While all of the suggestions here can definitely be helpful if you’re having trouble with armadillos, it’s also important to understand what steps you shouldn’t take before you go about trying to address the problem.
Again, you want to look into all local laws and regulations to make sure you thoroughly understand what you are and are not allowed to do when it comes to handling armadillos on your property. Simply trapping them may be against the law in your area unless you’re a licensed professional.
That said, it’s no secret that some people are completely fine with the idea of hunting the armadillos on their property. While you do want to opt for a humane solution to the problem whenever possible, if you’re a hunter anyway, it can be tempting to simply use your skills to keep your property free from pests.
This is an understandable idea for many people. However, it may also be in violating of the local laws governing what you are allowed to hunt, when you’re allowed to hunt it, and where you can hunt these animals. If you insist on going this route, make sure you fully comply with all applicable laws ahead of time.
You also want to make sure you don’t handle the armadillo yourself. When you are looking for one or trapping it, make sure you wear rubber gloves. Call the professionals to handle the task of removing it from your property. Again, although these animals are relatively safe, they can carry potentially harmful diseases. You’re much better off letting someone else handle them.
Additionally, it’s important not to get impatient when trying to get rid of armadillos. Again, for these animals, finding an area that provides a steady supply of food is the major goal. They will make an attempt to stay in a particular place if it gives them easy access to a reliable food source. However, that doesn’t mean your attempts to get rid of them will be in vain. Armadillos may try to stay in areas where food is bountiful, but they are not territorial creatures, and they will be willing to move on to another area eventually if you take the right steps to make your lawn less attractive. You just need to be a little patient. Even if you’re merely trapping them, finding the right place for the trap can be a somewhat involved process. You shouldn’t expect success overnight.
However, if you’re diligent about keeping these tips in mind, you should expect to solve your problem sooner rather than later. Once you’ve successfully removed armadillos from your yard, remember to take steps to keep them out for good. You don’t want to have to deal with this problem on a constant basis. If you remove one group of armadillos but don’t take steps to prevent them from coming back, there’s nothing stopping another group of armadillos from targeting your property later.
That’s why every point in this guide is important. The information here won’t just help you get rid of armadillos temporarily. Apply everything you’ve learned from this guide, and you can keep your property free from armadillos for good!