Have you recently noticed an abundance of holes in your yard, or maybe, found that some of your plants have been uprooted? Or worse – maybe you’ve come across some cracks in your pavements and you can’t quite figure out how they got there? Well, if you have noticed any of these, and if you live in an environment with overall moderate temperatures, there’s a good chance that you have armadillos in your backyard.
Armadillos can wreak havoc in your yard. Evidence of armadillo activity include freshly dug burrows, nose prints in loose soil, unpleasant fishy odor, uprooted plants, broken pavement, shallow holes in your lawn or landscaping, along with pipes and damaged wires.
If you are convinced that you have armadillos in your yard, it’s better to act fast to deter them as soon as you can. With that in mind, we’re going to be talking about how to spot armadillos, what to do if you have them, and some more!
What Are Armadillos?
A lot of people assume that pest automatically means rodent – and that’s far from the truth. Armadillos are actually mammals, and according to the National History Series at the University Of Georgia, armadillos are considered both an exotic animal and a pest.
Armadillos are needy animals when it comes to finding ideal conditions to live in. They’re not very adaptive, and in fact, armadillos need loose soil in order to feed and burrow.
Since armadillos are animals that dig (and they dig with their noses at that) and eat insects and food from underground, they need to find a location that requires diggable soil so that they can create holes and burrows.
There are 20 different types of armadillos, however, there is one that is found in the United States—the Nine-Banded Armadillo. It gets its name from the nine-bands of “armor” on their bodies, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Armadillos are cat-sized small mammals. Armadillos are usually around 13-17 pounds when full-sized, and up to 32 inches long.
Are There Benefits To Having Armadillos In Your Yard?
Besides being really cute with their little coat of armor (actually the name armadillo means little armored one in Spanish), having an armadillo around does have some pros, as well as some cons.
One reason why armadillos are great to have around is because they will eat all of the insects in your outdoor space.
According to the South Carolina National Wildlife Control Training Program, 90% of an armadillo’s food intake consists of insects like earthworms, scorpions, spiders, and other invertebrates, including maggots and pupae in carrion.
Another reason why armadillos are beneficial is because rather than eating just insects, according to the University of Florida, they will eat entire wasp nests and dig it out of the ground to do so.
This will save you the headache of getting an exterminator for the bees (although you may need one for the armadillos). Likewise, armadillos will also eat fire ant hills.
Cons Of Having Armadillos In Your Yard
Although there are a few pros to having armadillos around, unfortunately, there are more cons—and it’s very important to keep them away if you’re having an armadillo infestation.
Armadillos can be aggressive towards humans and can also carry a lot of germs. We suggest that if you’re having a problem, contact professional help immediately.
Firstly, armadillos will destroy your lawns and gardens because of their hole-digging instinct, and burrowing patterns. Armadillos dig because they eat the insects underground while also feasting on your plant bulbs.
Armadillos also eat other things like fruits and vegetables, especially root vegetables like beets, parsnips, turnips, and carrots. If food is scarce, they will eat lizards, small frogs, snakes, and eggs.
Further, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, armadillos often burrow in wooded land, areas with a lot of brush, near log piles where there is sufficient ground cover, and in loose soil.
The reason this becomes a problem is because oftentimes, your yard may be attracting them without realizing and when it does – they will dig up your yard, and gardens to find what they came for!
Although armadillos have some tell-tale signs of being around, they can be quite hard to find because they’re nocturnal – and we’re here today to share with you the signs of armadillos in your yard and how to find them!
Finding Burrows In Your Yard Can Mean You Have Armadillos
One of the obvious signs that you have an armadillo in your yard is if you see burrows, and lots of them!
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, an armadillo digs burrows 8 inches in diameter, ranging from two to 25 feet long, AND there can be as many as 15 separate ones in one surrounding area!
So, we’re not talking here just one burrow. If you notice multiple burrows in one area – there’s a very high chance that you have an armadillo in your yard.
Armadillos go into their burrows when temperatures are either too hot, or too cold. These mammals really like consistency, so their burrows are made to help them to maintain their temperature and keep them safe from the environmental changes.
In their burrow, an armadillo relaxes, sleeps, and if they’re not nesting, they typically are in the burrow alone.
Armadillos build these burrows with their own two hands – literally. Armadillos have short legs with claws—four toes on the front and five on the back legs.
An armadillo’s claws are used for digging to create burrows and foraging for food.
The burrows have an interesting architectural design as well, because they will have multiple entrances and exits to get back up to ground level, but they typically only use one of the entrances to go back and forth.
If you’d like to learn more about the specifics that draw armadillos to your property, take a look at our piece on the reasons why armadillos are in your yard – it’s a doozy!
An Armadillo Will Leave Nose Prints In Your Loose Soil
Another sign that an armadillo is around is finding nose prints in your loose soil – and we’re not talking human noses, we’re talking the long snout they use to find food underground.
Sometimes, these prints in your soil can look like you took the back end of a broom, or shovel, and dragged it across the soil, as that’s kind of what an armadillo’s nose looks like!
According to the National Wildlife Federation, armadillos have a keen sense of smell and they use it to track down up to 500 different foods!
However, knowing this shows how strong of a scent armadillos have, and they really use it for everything. With that, if you’re noticing weird looking indents within your soil that seem to follow a trail, you really could have an armadillo in your yard.
Armadillos have very poor eyesight, so they use their nose and sense of smell primarily for everything.
Interestingly, an armadillo is born without cones in their eyes that help detect light, however, they have rods that are light-receptive. Thus, light is extremely sensitive to them.
Smelling An Unpleasant Scent In Your Yard May Mean You Have An Armadillo
Speaking of sense of smell, if you have found a very foul smell in your yard, actually somewhat of a fishy smell, there’s a good chance that you have an armadillo in your yard, and it may have marked its territory.
According to a journal article in the National Library of Medicine, armadillos have a mucus-secreting gland in the submucous of their bottom portion. They produce a rather foul smell when scared, excited, or when using these secretions to mark their territory
Armadillos do not spray like skunks, moreover, they secrete a strong smell that smells offensive to humans. However, the smell may attract more armadillos and insects.
Armadillos Uproot Plants
Another sign of an armadillo lurking around your property is finding that your plants and flowers have been uprooted! Armadillos typically eat insects, but because they dig primarily for their food, they will eat underground bulbs if they come across it in their dig.
Sometimes, armadillos uproot plants accidentally when they’re creating those long burrows.
An armadillo isn’t too worried about your flowers and gardens when finding a place to burrow and will go right underneath it, while pushing everything up and out of its path!
If you notice that your plants have been uprooted (especially if they haven’t been eaten) there’s a very good chance that you have an armadillo in your yard.
If You Notice Broken Pavement You May Have An Armadillo In Your Yard
Unfortunately, if you have broken pavement or even greater structural damages to your home and yard, you may have one or more armadillos in your yard.
Armadillos will typically burrow under foundations, concrete slabs, driveways, pools, and other structures.
Similar to the idea of uprooted plants, armadillos will ferociously create their burrows, disregarding and pushing away anything above or in the way of creating it, to the side.
Overtime especially, and if armadillos are digging their burrows under pavements, these structures can pop, crack, and come out of place.
Finding Sporadic Shallow Holes In Your Grass And Soil Can Point To An Armadillo
Another very easy way to identify armadillos in your yard is by finding many holes throughout your landscaping.
Armadillos look for food with their snouts, and especially because they are fond of many underground-insects, armadillos will stick their nose right in the landscaping and stick out their super long tongues to grab a bite, which creates holes!
According to the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, armadillos are easy to identify because of the multiple shallow holes that they create in an outdoor space.
Armadillo holes are typically 3-5 inches wide, and 1-3 inches deep, and there will be many of them, at that – and get this, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept, the holes an armadillo digs end up becoming traps for other insects, and the armadillo will check back on the holes regularly.
Finding holes from an armadillo in your yard can be extremely frustrating because there will be many around the area.
However, as much as it’s annoying to see and deal with, if you do see all these holes, it’s a good sign to act fast and call a professional to prevent any further damage.
Broken Pipes and Damaged Wires Can Be A Sign Of Armadillos
Another sign of armadillos in your yard is finding broken pipes and damaged wires.
A lot of pipe systems and wires actually are underground. If you have a burrowing armadillo on the loose, it may end up breaking pipes and tearing and damaging wires too with its extremely strong, long claws.
The reality is though, armadillos are just looking for food and shelter, and although they create a lot of damage to your surroundings, there are things you can do to prevent the damage. Keep on reading to find a few ways to keep armadillos out of your yard!
What Will Keep Armadillos Away From Your Yard?
If you’ve now identified that you have an armadillo problem on your hands, your next question may be – what will keep armadillos away? Well, we’re going to talk about that below!
However, before doing any of the following on your own, we always highly recommend contacting a professional before dealing with an armadillo on your own.
Do not touch the armadillo as its skin may spread germs that require medical attention. Further, armadillos can get very defensive with a human especially if they are scared, so hiring a professional is the best way to guarantee your and the armadillo’s safety.
Maintaining Your Outdoor Space
The best solution to keeping armadillos away is by maintaining the space and keeping up with the tidying of your landscape.
By cleaning and removing overgrown shrubbery, log piles, repairing cracks in pavements and foundations, removing standing water, and by picking up food scraps from plants and trees, you will keep armadillos away.
An armadillo’s number one attractant is food, and they will not stay somewhere where food isn’t abundant. Since an armadillo mainly eats only insects, it’s tricky to remove their food source in full.
However, creating an outdoor space that isn’t attractive to bugs and other insects, is a good place to start, so that the armadillos will need to look elsewhere for food.
Armadillos like to live in forests and near water, as these areas are typically filled with bugs – and why is that, because water attracts insects, especially sitting water, and overgrown shrubbery all creates the perfect breeding spaces for insects.
Further, repairing any broken cracks in pavements is important, because an armadillo can burrow in those cracks, and search for bugs in them too.
Use Scents That Armadillos Hate
Since an armadillo has such a strong sense of smell, using scent that they hate will help keep them away – and there’s 3 that armadillo’s really hate: Garlic, Vinegar and Cayenne Pepper.
Garlic has an extremely poignant odor that will keep an armadillo away for certain. Since garlic is so strong, it will mask the sense of scent of an armadillo. Because armadillos rely so heavily on their scent, using something strong like this will keep them away.
By using garlic powder or placing full cloves of garlic within your gardens and surroundings, you will be able to deter armadillos.
A great way to incorporate garlic cloves is to actually push the 1-3 inches into your soil for extra protection, that way if an armadillo does start to dig, they will run into one of these cloves, and want to leave immediately.
Using powdered garlic and sprinkling it on top of loose soil, and around perimeters is a great way to add an extra layer of protection against armadillos.
Vinegar is another great option to keep armadillos away, as it can be found in your pantry and is inexpensive and effective.
Creating a vinegar solution with equal parts water and vinegar. Use it in a spray bottle to sporadically spray around your outdoor space—it will keep armadillos away.
Vinegar is extremely irritating to an armadillo’s senses, especially its eyes and nose. With its overwhelming bitter notes, it will not only irritate an armadillo’s sense of smell, but it will mask the smell of insects.
Adding vinegar to your outdoor space will deter armadillos as they will not find food sources.
Another great scent to use to repel armadillos is cayenne pepper.
By mixing cayenne pepper with water and vinegar and creating a solution to spray around your outdoor space, or by adding cayenne pepper directly to your outdoor space in powder form, you can keep armadillos away.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which is a chili extract that produces a burning sensation. Whether an armadillo sniffs or tastes cayenne pepper, both will act as a remedy to keeping them away, as the burning sensation that comes from it is unappealing to an armadillo.
If you need to grab some cayenne pepper, try out Cayenne Pepper Powder Bulk, which is made from all-natural red pepper spice.
Using scent in these ways is a harmless yet effective way to get rid of armadillos in your outdoor space. Just be sure to follow these tips for application, as rain can sometimes wash scent applications away.
Use Predators To Deter Armadillos
An unbelievable fact about armadillos and their bodies is that their shell or “armor” allows them to run through thorny brush, and escape from predators with ease.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources armadillos have many larger predators such as dogs, lions, coyotes, black bears, raptors and well, humans.
However, if they see – or better yet, smell a predator, there’s a very high chance that they will not come near the predator and go in the opposite direction.
By adding predators into your yard—whether it’s by sculpture, adding pet hair, or coyote urine—you will have a perfect way to deter armadillos from your yard.
Decoys Can Deter Armadillos
You can add predators by adding decoys to your outdoor space, like this Lone Howler Coyote Decoy. However, keep in mind that since an armadillo’s eyesight isn’t that great, keeping the coyote close to brush, shrubbery, and in loose soil (all of which armadillos are attracted to) will put it in an armadillo’s line of sight and scare them away.
Another predator to add into the space can actually be a scarecrow! This Vocheer 2 Pack of Scarecrows With Stands is a great way to add a “human” looking predator that armadillos will surely stay away from.
Scarecrows are a great option because they stand tall and can be seen from further distances. Although an armadillo’s eyesight isn’t too keen, they will be able to make out that a large blurry blob is lurking and will stay away.
As an added bonus, it will hopefully scare the crows away too! Here are some other ways to scare crows away.
Using Animal Smells To Deter Armadillos
Another way to incorporate predators into your surroundings is to use actual smells from animals.
If you have a dog or cat, the easiest thing you can do is to grab a pet hair brush like this Uproot Cleaner Reusable Hair Remover for Cats and Dogs to brush their fur, and then use that fur and place it around your yard.
Placing the hair in any burrows that you may see (as long as the armadillo isn’t in there) and in areas that are prone to armadillos (like shrubbery or around loose soil) will help deter them away.
That’s A Wrap!
All in all, there are few ways to tell if you have armadillos in your yard:
- Foul Scent
- Uprooted Plants
- Broken Pavements
- Bursting Pipes
- Nose Prints
If you have come across any of these signs contact a professional right away and for additional help , adding scents that armadillos hate, faux predators and by maintaining your property will work in keeping armadillos away.
Vantassel, S. M., Hygnstrom, S. E., Curtis, P. D., & Smith, R. (2014). Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management 2004-2013. In Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference (Vol. 26, No. 26).
Loughry, W. J., & McDonough, C. M. (2013). The nine-banded armadillo. A natural history. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
da Silveira Anacleto, T. C. (2007). Food habits of four armadillo species in the Cerrado area, Mato Grosso, Brazil. ZOOLOGICAL STUDIES-TAIPEI-, 46(4), 529.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.