Climate change means you could see more armadillos in North Carolina
Posted January 7, 2022 1:44 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2022 3:47 p.m. EST
Zebulon, N.C. — Over the past couple years, there has been an increase in armadillo sightings across the Carolinas, and officials with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission says it's due to climate change.
Armadillos have been spotted in 23 counties across North Carolina, including Wake and Durham. Since 2007, there have been as many as 30 sightings of armadillos in Wake County.
Greg Batts, an N.C. Wildlife biologist in Zebulon, said he documented two armadillos on the N.C. Highway 55 widening project in August in 2020. One had been run over by a car and another had a den near the overpass, he said.
"They are here mostly because of warmer weather due to climate change leading to more viable habitat opening up. Armadillos have little to no fat which means they can’t survive when temperatures average below freezing during the coldest months of the year like now," Batts said. "They also mostly dig for their food and frozen ground isn’t conducive for food collection."
Batts also said more armadillos are likely also moving to North Carolina due South Carolina's growth. The population increase has pushed many young armadillos north, looking for a viable place to stay.
"Are they here for good? Yes, most likely, because temperatures continue to warm," Batts said.
From 2016 to 2020, the total number of armadillo sightings reported each year has jumped from 22 to now 128. Officials have not yet updated the number of total armadillo sightings in 2021, but said sightings have increased even more.
To report an armadillo sighting, wildlife officials ask that you go to the iNaturalist website or download the iNaturalist app. You can also call the Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.