Thursday, May 17, 2007

Armadillos



When I moved to Georgia, I never thought I'd see armadillos. I always associate them with desert-y kind of places, like west Texas or Arizona. But they seem to be all over the place around here, at least as road kill. Tons of 'em. I see them every day. So, as a public service, here is some information about our good friend formerly from the order Xenarthra, courtesy of Wikipedia:


Armadillos are small placental mammals, known for having a bony armor shell. The Dasypodidae are the only surviving family in the order Cingulata. Until as recently as 1995, the family was placed in the order Xenartha, along with the anteaters and sloths.

Armadillo is Spanish for "little armored one", referring to their outer skin that looks like armor. During the Great Depression, this species was known as "Hoover Hog" by down-on-their luck Americans who had to eat them instead of the "chicken in every pot" Herbert Hoover had promised as President. Earlier, German settlers in Texas would often refer to the armadillo as Panzerschwein ("armored pig").

Armadillos make common roadkill due to their habit of jumping to about fender height when startled (such as by an oncoming car).


Apparently the little buggers have been spreading throughout the southeast for quite some time now, but no one is entirely sure how they got here. Some speculate that they came from a group of animals that escaped from a Florida circus back in the 1800's, and some people think they may have been brought back east from Texas as a food source (!). Either way, they don't have a lot of natural predators here, aside from pick-up trucks, so they seem to be doing pretty well. They now range all the way up to Missouri and Kansas.


And that, children, is your science lesson for today.

2 comments:

Gurnal said...

I feel educated. See...told ya I'm reading along. Good stuff. Looking forward to the next post.

Anonymous said...

MR. GURNAL!!!

I'm reading too Jen... nice pics of Princess Kate's room!