Roving Bands of “Fairly Destructive” Armadillos May March on DC Thanks to Climate Change, Reports Washington Post
"Roving Bands of “Fairly Destructive” Armadillos May March on DC Thanks to Climate Change, Reports Washington Post"
The Daily Climate reported back in June:
The armadillo is moving north into areas never expected by biologists, who are also seeing climate-related migration of mice and other mammals in the Great Lakes region.
That story noted “there’s no question armadillos – and other small mammals – are on the move in the United States, expanding into terrain biologists thought highly unlikely just a few years ago.” And some of the migration “is clearly triggered by a changing climate. Armadillos have settled into southern Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri – all areas that were “totally unexpected,” according to Colleen McDonough, a biology professor at Georgia’s Valdosta State University.
I confess I didn’t make much of the story at the time. But today the Washington Post turned the story into:
Roving armadillos could be heading for the Washington area, biologists say
… Climate change is the culprit…. biologists’ claim that the armadillo’s northward expansion can be attributed to a warming atmosphere….
And the WashPost directs us to the blog at The Museum of Life and Science in North Carolina just so we’ll know armadillos aren’t harmless, even if they are cute (and these don’t roll into a ball):
They are mainly insectivorous and can be fairly destructive to areas in their search to dig up delicious crawly treats. They also dwell in burrows that they dig and which do a great service to other species because when they vacate their burrows, these are quickly utilized by skunks, rattlesnakes, burrowing owls and numerous other species.
Contrary to popular belief, the Nine-Banded Armadillo cannot roll itself into a ball to protect itself. It can run away quickly when startled, jump a few feet into the air and, if all else fails-will quickly dig a shallow trench to wedge itself in. Their armor does provide a great amount of protection, as most predators cannot get through the shell and quickly grow discouraged and give up.
And what else is very interesting about the armadillo is their reproductive strategy. The female will give birth to 4 young at a time and they are all identical to each other. The quadruplets come from one fertilized egg which splits into 4 separate embryos which then develop alongside each other and result in a litter of 4 which will nurse from their mother for approximately 3 months and stay with her for between 6 months to a year. They can breed at one year old, and every year thereafter for the rest of their 12-15 year lifespan. One female can give birth to over 50 young, which is why their population is growing so quickly.
The WashPost puts it:
Scientists don’t know what the range expansion means, though it’s not out of the question to imagine the insect-eaters could wreak havoc on backyards in the DMV….
“Basically all we can do is … sit back and measure the change as it happens,” the University of Michigan’s Philip Myers told the Daily Climate, “whether we like it or not.”
Not among the top 10 threats to DC from climate change, but, hey, one takes what one can get from the Washington Post.