Someone reported that an armadillo was injured in the road. Houston SPCA rescue jumped to its aid. The armadillo was found in the road covered with ants and circling. The armadillo was brought to the Wildlife Center and veterinarian exam revealed head trauma and road rash. It will be on medications for several days and then when given the okay, will be released. It will be released out in the country, away from roads and near a water source. A great big Wildlife Center thank you to the person who made the report and the Houston SPCA rescue driver, who allowed this armadillo a second chance at life. The Wildlife Center has been receiving many calls about armadillos digging up their gardens. We remind people that during the drought our well watered gardens are inviting to the armadillos who like to dig in our normally moist soil in yards and woods. The drought has pushed them into our gardens. We have several tips on our website on how to co-exist with them.
The Wildlife Center has shifted to its Spring/Summer operating hours and is now open Monday through Friday 9:00-6:00 and weekends 9:00-4:00pm. Sunday was the first full day of spring and it is quite appropriate that a baby Great Horned owl became the 1000th intake of the year. Raptor babies, especially Great Horned Owls are usually one of the first babies to make their appearance each year. This year we were several weeks into baby squirrels before the Great Horned owlets began showing up at intake. This month has kept the Center staff, veterinarians, and volunteers very busy treating and feeding hundreds of squirrels and opossums. The squirrels seemed to fall out of nests when strong winds blew through in March. The Center is also caring for over a hundred little baby opossums who were kept alive by the protection of a mother's pouch, when moms were run over by vehicles. While we are sad the moms did not make it, their heritage is carried on by these resilient little ones. Caring volunteers not only provide these orphans food and shelter, but do so in a manner that keeps them wild so they have the best chance at survival when they are returned to the wild. Baby doves are beginning to show up at the Wildlife Center. They will soon be followed by songbirds and Killdeer. Hopefully, the squirrel and opossum babies will have eased off before the birds hit their peak. A young female bobcat was brought to the Wildlife Center who was hit by a car. She has a severe head injury. Wildlife Center veterinarians checked the bobcat out and she was found to have an eye injury as well as several check bone fractures. She is on medications and is [...]
The three armadillo brothers that were raised at the Wildlife Center since they were a couple of days old were taken to a remote site that already has armadillo on it for release. It was wonderful to witness these unusual mammals grow, change and learn. Watching their instinctual behavior emerge gave us confidence that these boys would have the tools they needed to survive at release. The landowner dug a trench to create an artificial den. At the uphill end of the trench, he placed a five-gallon bucket. To the cap of the bucket, he connected a “tunnel” of metal dryer vent. Then everything except the entrance was buried. A low fence was erected to guide the armadillo to the nearby pond. Back-up food was provided. The armadillo had been busy digging around the enclosure, so the fence was removed. The landowner dug up the den one week later check on the health and well-being of the brothers. He discovered that two of the three armadillo was still calling it home. It is thought that the largest of the three was probably foraging nearby or had struck out on his own. It is expected that the remaining two will eventually abandon the artificial den, but it will be there in case they need a place to hide. What a perfect release! It makes all of the work worthwhile.
The dilapidated house was being torn down to make room for new construction. If anyone had thought about what might be living under the house, they would have assumed that the ruckus had scared everyone away. Deconstruction went just fine until the workmen began removing the sub-floor. Imagine the surprise when an armadillo bounced out of the opening and scurried away. The startled workmen looked into the hole to discover a shallow dirt nest containing four baby armadillos. The babies were so young the shriveled umbilical cord was still attached! Phone calls were quickly made to WR&E – what to do? The normal advice would be to leave them in the nest to allow the mother time to relocate them – but considering the demolition, exposure to chill night temperatures and potential predators it was determined the best course of action would be to bring them to the Wildlife Center. When WR&E advises allowing the mother to retrieve her babies (or a baby bird is put back into a nest or substitute nest), we instruct the rescuer to watch for mother’s return and to not let the babies get cold to the touch. Obviously this couldn’t be done on a construction site. Armadillos are wonderfully strange creatures. Life began for these four last June or July when the female ovulated a single egg. About this same time, the normally solitary armadillos search for a mate and the single egg is fertilized. Mom and dad go their separate ways. Implantation of the embryo doesn’t usually occur until November! When it does it immediately divides twice forming four identical babies that share the same embryonic sac and placenta. The babies are usually born in March or April. [...]
Nine Banded Armadillo - The Texas Tank by Cyndi Bohannon Until I became a wildlife rehabilitator, my experience with armadillos was limited to squished little bodies on country roads, one bouncing through a soccer field and my great-grandmother’s macabre but fascinating armadillo skin basket. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew they were mammals, but it was hard to imagine those armor plated little tanks reproducing, much less giving birth to live young and nursing them. Like the under-appreciated opossum, the armadillo came along very early in the evolutionary timeline and hasn’t changed significantly since. The armadillo’s most distinctive feature is its armor plating, however its sticky tongue, reproductive behaviors and methods of crossing bodies of water are strange enough to amaze. The nine banded armadillo is so named for the nine “plates” or scutes in-between the larger anterior (shoulder) and posterior (hip) scutes. The tough connective skin between the scutes makes it appear to be able to curl into a ball, however only one of the twenty species is capable of this feat. The bony plates can not grow and are not shed or molted, so young are born with soft plates that slowly harden until it is full grown at approximately a year old. Armadillos are primarily insectivores, showing preference for grubs, beetles and ants. However, when insects are not as plentiful, the armadillo shifts to a diet of berries and other vegetable material, small amphibians and carrion maggots. The armadillo is often accused preying on ground nesting birds and their eggs. While a hungry armadillo won’t turn down an egg breakfast, reports show that ground birds and their eggs constitute less than 0.04% of their overall diet. The armadillo has [...]