How to Get Rid of Armadillos

The nine-banded armadillo -- and why you want to get rid of these critters.

How can you get rid of armadillos in your yard? Ways you get rid of armadillos include restricting their food supply, removing their hiding places, fencing, and live trapping and baiting.

Don’t let an armadillo’s small size, big ears, and cute snout fool you. The nine-banded armadillo causes considerable damage to lawns, flower beds, and vegetable gardens. Armadillos’ sharp claws will even cause structural damage by burrowing tunnels under buildings and driveways.

This pest, common across the Southeast and considered an invasive species in Florida, loves digging holes in yards for food. Its primary food sources are earthworms, scorpions, spiders, and other invertebrates.

A single armadillo can dig dozens of holes in your yard and prefers the most maintained lawns. You would think that a well-kept lawn would mean fewer pests, but the moist soil makes a welcoming invitation for these hungry critters.

Another reason you don’t want armadillos around: Armadillos are the only animal other than humans capable of carrying the bacteria that causes leprosy. The transmission of leprosy from armadillos to humans is not well understood but poses a medical concern.

How to Get Rid of Armadillos

Homeowners have plenty of reasons to want to solve their armadillo problem. With no repellents or fumigants designed to target armadillos, homeowners often struggle to find an effective solution. That’s why we’ve collected five methods you can use to protect your lawn from damage and preserve the animal’s life.

Some of these removal solutions are more effective than others, and some can serve as a deterrent or armadillo control for years to come:

1. Restrict their food supply

Want to get rid of an armadillo in your yard? Attack its food supply. If armadillos have nothing to eat, they’ll likely forage elsewhere.

Why this may not work: Ridding the soil of all insects, grubs, and worms may lead to a whole new set of problems as plants also rely on these organisms. Also, applying insecticides may harm birds, rabbits, squirrels — or your pets.

Armadillos, denied a ready supply of food from the ground, may scavenge your yard for anything else to eat (much like raccoons and opossums target your garbage), creating even more tunnels and holes. These tunnels and holes can pose their own challenges to kids playing in your yard or you when you’re mowing the lawn.

2. In-ground fencing

In-ground fences might seem like an effective solution, but if the fence doesn’t go deep enough, armadillos will burrow right underneath and into your yard. Sometimes armadillos will climb right over the fence.

Deeper is better: A fence buried 18 inches deep and slanted outward at a 40-degree angle will help deter armadillos from digging. Homeowners with a large perimeter will want to consider the cost of fencing materials.

3. Electric fencing

An electrical fence can keep armadillos out of your midst and off your grass, but don’t go this route in areas where children or pets play.

Pro tip: If you opt for this shocking solution, a single-strand electrical fence 3 to 4 inches off the ground can be effective, the University of Missouri Extension recommends.

4. Remove their hiding places

Armadillos like to create burrows in areas that have a protective cover. Removing brush, rock piles, and tall grass will sometimes discourage armadillos from digging.

Why this may not work: By getting rid of these materials from your yard, you are removing the habitat of other wildlife.

5. Live trapping and baiting

Baiting is an effective solution for controlling armadillos invading your yard.

The University of Florida IFAS Extension experimented on how 40 armadillos responded to a variety of baits. The IFAS Extension tested invertebrates, eggs, fruits, and scents from armadillo anal glands. They concluded that most of the armadillos preferred pond worms, wigglers, crickets, and red worms.

The challenge with baiting armadillos is getting an armadillo to find the trap and enter it. Armadillos struggle to recognize food sources until they are up close. Baiting an armadillo from a long distance will not be a successful solution.

What this means: You will need to find your armadillo’s (or armadillos’) travel paths and holes to place a trap where armadillos are most likely to stumble upon it. For example, set traps near the entrance of an active burrow or alongside fencing barriers where armadillos have a habit of traveling.

Pro tip: Wooden boards can help funnel any armadillos moving alongside barriers right into the traps.

Homeowners who wish to bait and trap their armadillos will need to remain vigilant and monitor the traps. Leaving any cage trap or live trap unchecked for too long is harmful to the animal stuck inside.

SEE RELATED: How to get rid of voles

When to Call Professional Help

Ridding your lawn of armadillos takes dedication, perseverance, and a real desire to keep these diggers off your grass. If the above solutions don’t run off your armadillo, call animal control, wildlife removal, or pest control expert near you.

Pro tip: You may read online that the strong smell of mothballs, castor oil or ammonia can be used as armadillo repellents. Don’t be fooled. Wildlife Removal USA and other professionals say armadillos seem unswayed by the odors and warn that mothballs can be tempting (they can look like candy) and dangerous to children.

Armadillos are tough, but you, a determined homeowner, are tougher. Try one of our methods above and you likely will have those armadillos finding new territory in no time. Sorry, neighbors!

Main image credit: birdphotos.com, CC by 3.0

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell

Jane Purnell is a freelance writer and actor in New York City. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and enjoys a warm cup of French press coffee.