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The Nine-Banded Florida Armadillo

06.17.2006 - Today I happened across one of Florida's more unusual creatures, the Nine-Banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus). It was crossing a parking lot. Instead of running it over with my truck, I decided to photograph it. It was making pretty good time for an armadillo, purposefully striding across the pavement. Usually they slowly root along, sniffing for snacks to dig out of the ground. However, this armadillo must have sensed that it would have difficulty digging through the pavement, so it decided to trot along to softer pastures.

Since I've already explained why the armadillo is so danged different from the other animals (the shell, the leprosy, the identical quadruplets, the membership in the rare animal kingdom order Xenarthra, etc), I'll discuss the specific history of the Nine-Banded armadillo with the state of Florida. First of all, they're not native to the state. They come from Central America. It's believed that they were introduced to Florida when a breeding pair escaped from a south Florida zoo. They tunneled their way out. Other legends say that the Spaniards, in their lust for gold, named this creature "Little Armored One" and released them in Florida and Louisiana to try to dig up gold. Still other folk say that they merely made their way from Mexico and Texas to Florida in the 1960's, most of them in a brightly colored VW van.

I tend to think, that as with all animal introductions, various people, for various unknown reasons, carried them here, and released them for still more unknown reasons. That's how it usually seems to go. Anyway, they love Florida. There's like, 8 million of 'em in the state. They like the sandy soil, which is easy to dig in, much easier than blacktop. They like the warm weather, but if it's too hot, they only come out at night. In the winter, you can see them active during the daytime. This March 13th day was chilly, so I guess that's why it was out and about.

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