I’ve got company! :)

I had SUCH a memorable Memorial Day!  A family of unexpected guests arrived just in time for breakfast!

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Hmmmmm…..beach sunflower buffet? Mighty enticing! 😉

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Of the 20 known Armadillo species, only one resides in the US: Dasypus novemcinctus aka the nine-banded or longnose variety. The next two photos show how well they live up to these common names!

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D. novemcinctus are somewhat opportunistic eaters.   Their pig-like snouts function as foraging tools, seeking out insects, earthworms, small reptiles and amphibians.  Plant roots, carrion, small birds and mammals may also be consumed.  If they head to your garden, beware!  Even the briefest foraging session leaves behind holes and misplaced garden soil…especially around new plantings like the banana and small cactus in my ranchero!

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The Florida armadillo population was the result of a few animals released from a small zoo in 1924, combined with several more that escaped from a traveling circus in 1936. They’ve multiplied and spread thoughout the state due to a fast reproductive cycle. Female armadillos reach sexual maturity between 1-2yrs of age, bearing 4 pups from a single egg that divides into quarters before implanting!  Interesting fact should you ever appear on Jeopardy➡ armadillos are the ONLY mammal to give birth to identical quadruplets all the time!

If you look closely at this next picture, you’ll notice a few “dings” in the rear armored plates of the animal nearest the street:

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When they came back on Tuesday, I got a closer look and noticed another mark towards the head:20130528_105639-1

In person, these looked more like claw marks (or scrapings) than indentations.  In terms of local wildlife predators, bobcats and hawks have been known to hunt armadillos, although most fall victim to car accidents when crossing urban streets.  An armadillo’s natural escape reflex is jumping instead of running…jumping is what typically puts them at odds with grilles of oncoming vehicles! Eek!

If you think it odd to see armadillos during daytime, it isn’t!  Juveniles are more apt to seek food during daylight, largely to avoid adult armadillos who forage during dawn and dusk, and behave aggressively toward youngsters at “adult feeding time.”

I had hoped to see these fascinating prehistoric holdovers again Wednesday, but it rained (HARD!) intermittently all day.  I think they’re living among the plumbago hedge along my house’s concrete slab, an ideal, safe spot of well concealed brush!

Here’s one final glimpse:

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Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂