RALEIGH, N.C. — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking the public to report any sightings of nine-banded armadillos to the agency.
Commission biologists are seeking observations to help them determine the range expansion of armadillos in the Tar Heel state. To participate, volunteers who spot an armadillo in the wild should upload and share their photos on the NC Armadillo project, which launched today on the free online platform iNaturalist. Volunteers can upload their photos via a computer at iNaturalist.org or they can download the free iNaturalist app, which is available for iPhone and Android.
People who want to report observations but do not want to use iNaturalist can send their armadillo observations to email@example.com. The email should include:
A photo of the armadillo
When it was observed (date and time)
The location where it was observed (GPS coordinates are best, but a detailed location description is acceptable)
Armadillos are native to Central and South America but have gradually expanded their range into the southeastern United States. In 2007, the agency received the first confirmed sighting of a nine-banded armadillo in Macon County and in the last 12 years has received more than 170 reports in 46 counties.
The number of counties with confirmed observations is 27, stretching from Cherokee to Dare counties, and makes it likely the armadillo is expanding its range naturally throughout North Carolina, rather than being helped by human intervention, according to Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist.
“Whether armadillos continue spreading beyond their current range will be largely determined by climate,” said Olfenbuttel. “Mild winter temperature conditions are good for armadillos. Since they lack thick insulation and must dig for most foods, freezing conditions can cause them to starve or freeze to death.
“However, North Carolina is experiencing fewer long stretches of below freezing weather, which is allowing armadillos to expand northward.”