How to Get Rid of Armadillos

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

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. We’ve collected five humane ways for you to get rid of armadillos while protecting your property and the animal’s life.

How to Get Rid of Armadillos 

You can control armadillos on your property by limiting their access to food and hiding spots, installing fencing, or trapping them.

1. Restrict Their Food Supply

Termites, grubs, and other insects, plus soft fruits and vegetables, are an armadillo’s favorite meal. Reduce their food sources in your yard to make it less inviting.

  • Trim bushes, shrubs, and tall grass: Armadillos look for these overgrown areas because they’re often full of insects.
  • Reduce the insect population: One option is to apply a broad-spectrum insecticide or use eco-friendly beneficial nematodes to eliminate grubs and insects. However, insecticides may have negative effects on the environment, aren’t a long-term solution, and don’t always deter armadillos.
  • Guard your crops: Cover your vegetable garden and flower beds with wire mesh to keep armadillos out. Also, pick up any fallen fruit from trees as soon as possible.

Cons of restricting food supply: Armadillos, denied a ready supply of food from the ground, may scavenge your yard for anything else to eat. 

  • Even more tunnels and holes: They start digging in search of food. Holes and tunnels present their own set of hazards for kids playing in your yard or when mowing your lawn.
  • Insecticides can be harmful: Getting rid of all the insects, grubs, and earthworms in the soil can cause problems. Your grass and plants rely on these organisms to thrive. Plus, insecticides are dangerous to birds, rabbits, squirrels, and even your pets.

Consider using organic pest control options to minimize your environmental impact.

2. In-Ground Fencing

An in-ground fence, usually made of wire, acts as a physical barrier against advancing armadillos.

The underground fencing needs to be deep because armadillos dig. Bury 12 to 18 inches of the fence into the ground with 1 foot of fencing above ground to keep them from climbing over. The fencing needs to bend outward at a 40-degree angle or in an “L” shape to deter the critters.

You don’t have to tear down your existing fence to add an in-ground layer. Two options for installing an underground fence are:

Bury it:

  • Dig a trench down about 18 inches. You can remove the sod and replace it later. Keep the sod in a shady place until ready.
  • Trim PVC-coated galvanized wire to the length of a fenced side with a pair of linesman pliers. Attach the wire top edge to the lower rail and posts with staples.
  • Push the fence 12 inches into the trench and crease the wire away from the posts to make an “L” shape.
  • Backfill the trench with soil and replace the sod.

    Cover it up:

  • Follow the steps above except for digging the trench.
  • Leave the “L” shape flat on the ground and fasten to the ground with garden stakes.
  • Over time, grass will grow through the mesh creating a barrier. You’ll eventually be able to mow over it. Keep the mower high for the first season to avoid catching the fence.
  • You can also cover it with mulch to create a path.

Cons of in-ground fencing:  While it’s an effective solution, it has drawbacks.

  • Flaws in the fence. If it doesn’t go deep enough, armadillos will burrow underneath and into your yard. Sometimes armadillos will climb right over the fence.
  • Labor intensive: Either option requires a lot of effort to install especially if you’re covering a large area.

Homeowners with a large lot will want to consider the cost of fencing materials.

3. Electric Fencing

Photo Credit: Alan J. Hendry / Unsplash

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. 

The University of Missouri Extension recommends placing a single, 3 to 4-inch high strand supported by posts approximately a foot away from your fence to keep armadillos at bay.

To begin with, confirm that electric fences are allowed in your area by contacting your city or county. Due to safety concerns, several towns forbid the usage of electric barriers.

The components and kits to DIY install an electric pest fence are readily available to buy and fairly easy to install. It works on a lower amperage than the electric fences for livestock, which will shock but not kill your pets.

An electric fence kit usually contains:

  • Reel of wire
  • Metal fence posts
  • Ground rod
  • Hookup wire
  • AC fence charger

Cons of an electric fence:

  • Requires maintenance: Weeds and grass pressing against wires can drain voltage or cause fires. If insulators leak electricity when damaged, a panicked animal can run straight through the wire.
  • Need power: You’ll have to stay connected to a power source. The power usage is still low, but there is constant use of electricity.

You can install an electric fence in a few hours or less to provide basic animal control.

Pro Tip: One of the most significant issues with electric fencing systems is poor grounding. Make sure your connections are good when installing.

4. Remove Their Hiding Places

Photo Credit: Lior Golgher / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Armadillos like to create burrows in areas that have a protective cover and will dig several more for escape routes. 

Check your property for armadillo burrows and holes near:

  • Vegetation: Garden and flower beds attract the insects that armadillos like to eat. Tall grass, shrubs, and trees offer added protection when they’re foraging.
  • Buildings: Armadillos burrow around foundations, decks, and air conditioners to hide. They’ll also build nests under rock and debris piles.
  • Remove brush, debris piles, and tall grass to discourage armadillos from digging.
  • Replace bushy plants with a low-lying ground cover.
  • Trim your lawn and bushes, and get rid of any leaf piles or fallen branches.
  • Cover gardens or flower beds with mesh cages.

Cons of removing hiding places:

  • Affects habitat: By taking these materials from your yard, you are removing the habitat of other wildlife, including beneficial insects.

5. Live Trapping With Bait

Check your state’s wildlife laws to see if it’s legal to catch and release armadillos in your area.

Choose your trap:

Trapping is an effective way to control armadillos in your yard. Look for a cage trap with these characteristics:

  • Large or extra large in size: Armadillos are about the size of a cat, so a 12-inch x 12-inch x 32-inch live catch trap works well especially if you have a big guy rolling around.
  • A two-door trap: Because the armadillo can enter from either side, two-door traps are usually more efficient than one-door models. It increases the likelihood that you’ll catch that annoying armadillo sooner.
  • Includes funnels: Some traps have “wings,” or 6-foot-long narrow runners that funnel the animals inside. Existing barriers such as residential walls, thick shrubbery, and existing fences work, too. Any kind of barricade is usable if it guides the armadillo into the trap.

Baiting your trap:

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.

The University of Florida Extension concluded that most armadillos preferred:

  • Crickets
  • Red worms
  • Pond worms
  • Wigglers

These are all available online or at your local pet supply store. Place live bait in a nylon stocking so they won’t escape before the armadillo gets there. If worms and crickets make your skin crawl, the Alabama Cooperative Extension notes that “live traps baited with overripe fruit, such as apples or bananas, can be used to catch problem armadillos,” too.

Setting your trap: 

  • Setup traps near the entrance of an active burrow or alongside fencing barriers where armadillos have a habit of traveling. Use some of the soil to cover the wire base to encourage the animals to enter.
  • Position bait so the armadillo will have to step on the trigger plate. It’s recommended to place bait in the middle of the trap, however, this will depend on the location of the trigger plate on your trap model.

You need to check the armadillo traps every morning. Animals trapped in cages or live traps should never be left alone for any extended time. 

Cons of trapping with bait:

  • May be illegal: While some states have no laws against trapping armadillos, in places like Florida and Texas, it is illegal for you to relocate them as they’re not a native species.
  • Semi-dangerous: Armadillos aren’t aggressive, but a frightened armadillo can do some damage with those sharp claws and teeth.

It’s best to contact your local professional wildlife control service to relocate any wild animals. If panicked, an armadillo may use its extremely sharp claws to get away, which can lead to serious injury. If you choose to transport the armadillo yourself, always wear gloves. Heavy-duty gardening gloves or thick gloves with long cuffs are best.

How to Prevent Armadillos

armadillo grass
Photo Credit: Chrtlmn / Pexels

Once you’ve sent the trespassing armadillo on its way, you’ll need to cover those burrows to keep another armadillo from moving in.

Start by gently blocking the entrance to the burrow, and then watch it regularly to avoid trapping the animal underground. Watch to see if it has returned to re-open the tunnel. 

After a few days of no visible disturbance, you can fill in the hole with a mixture of dirt and pea gravel. This makes it more difficult for them to dig through again.

If you had an armadillo under your house and you’re confident it is no longer there, bury an L-shaped length of the in-ground fencing against the foundation. This prevents animals like armadillos from digging back under.

Armadillo Problems: What To Look For

Armadillos typically dig up lawns to munch on grubs and earthworms. Although they do not eat plants directly, their digging may damage or kill your grass or gardens.

Signs of armadillo damage include:

  • Mulch kicked out of flower beds.
  • Shallow holes spread around the lawn or in flower beds, measuring approximately 3 to 5 inches wide and 1 to 3 inches deep.
  • Flowers and other decorative plants uprooted from their beds.
  • Cracks in driveways or sidewalks caused by burrowing armadillos.

You might be dealing with gophers, woodchucks, or moles if there are piles of dirt near the holes.

What Are Armadillos

picture of armdillo sitting
Photo Credit: WWF / Rawpixel

Armadillos are mammals that have protective armor covering their barrel-shaped bodies. Its name translates to “little armored one” in Spanish.

Out of the 20 or so species of armadillos that exist, only the nine-banded armadillo lives in the U.S. Florida classifies armadillos as an invasive species.

What do Armadillos Look Like?

Armadillos resemble their distant cousins, the anteaters, in that they both have long, sticky tongues and pointy snouts. Armadillos come in a variety of colors including red, gray, black, yellow, and even pink.

Armadillos range in size from the pink fairy armadillo at 3 inches long to the giant armadillo, which may be up to 5 feet long and weigh around 132 pounds. 

The back, head, legs, and tail of an armadillo have overlapping plates. According to the San Diego Zoo, the number of armored bands identifies each species.

What do Armadillos Do? 

Armadillos are solitary creatures who spend most of their time asleep. According to National Geographic, they can sleep up to 16 hours a day. They forage for food in the early morning and evening hours.

Because of their poor eyesight, they hunt using their highly developed sense of smell and have wiry hairs along their sides and belly to help them navigate. An armadillo’s primary diet is insects and other invertebrates, but they also eat fruit, eggs, small mammals, and carrion.

Do Armadillos Carry Disease?

According to the CDC, some armadillos in the southern United States are naturally infected with the bacteria for leprosy that results in Hansen’s disease in humans. However, the danger is extremely low, and most humans who do encounter armadillos are unlikely to contract an illness.

FAQ About Armadillos

Can You Flood an Armadillo Out of its Burrow?

It’s not recommended. When using water to flood a burrow, you risk damaging nearby structures, including your home. It might cause mold problems, shaky ground in the yard, cracks in pavement and sidewalks, damage to your home’s foundation, and flooding in basements.

Do Armadillo Repellents Work?

No. The University of Florida says there are no effective armadillo repellents available. A sturdy fence is the most effective armadillo deterrent. The best way to deal with a current armadillo problem is to trap the animal in a live trap and then relocate it.

Are Armadillos an Endangered Species?

Armadillos are not endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, the giant armadillo has been listed as “vulnerable,” and the southern three-banded armadillo is listed as “near threatened” because of population decline.

When to Call a Wildlife Removal Service

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 a wildlife removal expert near you.

Main image credit: / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Raven Wisdom

Raven Wisdom is a writer with a passion for pest control, gardening, sustainable living, and making a positive impact in the world. When she's not defending her garden from critters in the wilds of West Texas, Raven can be found writing, wrangling two kids in a neurodivergent family, and supporting her local animal rescues.