Do Armadillos Bite People or Pets? Do They Carry Diseases?

armadillo bite

Wondering if armadillos bite people or pets? The short answer is, yes, armadillos can bite people or animals. But, like most animals, armadillos only bite people if they feel threatened (or if they have rabies or something that makes them extra aggressive). Generally, you don’t need to worry about armadillos though, because they normally leave people alone.

Armadillos look quite clumsy, carrying around their protective shield of armor but they are actually quite athletic animals.

Armadillos can run, swim, and dig. When underwater, they can hold their breath for approximately six minutes, and with their pig-like snout and long tongue they can dig food from the ground.

The armadillo cannot see well but does have a very good sense of smell. They are about the size of an opossum and weigh about 17 pounds. What most people wonder when they see this clumsy animal enter their area is, “Do armadillos bite?” Is there a concern or risk for having them on or around your property?

Video showing an armadillo attacking a man who appears to provoke the armadillo

Do armadillos bite?

Armadillos do not typically bite people, but they can. Their mouths are very small with peg-like teeth. The worry about possible armadillo bites stems from the fact that they carry the human form of leprosy.

Armadillos can move about quite quickly in what resembles a hopping fashion, but they don’t typically chase people nor do they normally bite people.

But, armadillos are not one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They do not provide a lot of benefits to the environment but also do not inflict any harm in the wild. The primary nuisance from armadillos is that they enter our yard and garden and dig, seemingly continuously, in search of food. They can quickly tear up your lawn or garden.

What habitat do armadillos prefer?

Armadillos prefer the shady, dense cover of brush, woodlands, and forests. They also stay around places with easy access to water.

Armadillos mostly dig for their food so prefer areas where the soil is sandy or loose. They will burrow into rock and brush piles and old tree stumps.

When they enter your property they will look for places that resemble their native habitat. They will choose to burrow under your shed, house, porch, or deck and will also look for your woodpile or crawl space under your house. They have sharp, strong claws and legs and will use smaller holes near your foundation than you’d expect to get under your house.

How living near armadillos can affect you

Signs you may be sharing your property with an armadillo will be digging sites in your garden or flower beds and even random patches of your lawn. They will cause a lot of damage with their digging and it is often unrepairable.

If they have moved in under your house, their damage could cost you a lot of money. They are also noisy animals which will certainly annoy you.

With their armor-like shell, they will rub up against your house which will be loud enough to wake you and when they eat they produce a grunting sound much like the pig. If the armadillo feels threatened it will scream or squeal which is exceptionally loud.

Another problem that exists with armadillos living under your home is the stench that will occur should it die under there. When they dig to get under your home they often fall into an area under your foundation. Since they are not climbers, they will end up dying in this space.

The smell will enter your home and cause headaches and nausea in your entire family. Even when alive the armadillo emits an odor that can seep into your home. These are not animals you want to share your living space with, in fact, some areas require by law that you remove any armadillo infestation prior to selling your home.

Video showing armadillos running away from a man (which is what they’ll normally do when you approach them)

Are Armadillos Dangerous?

As discussed above, the risk of armadillo bites is quite low for most people. If you trap armadillos or provoke them, though, expect a higher risk of armadillo bites. Armadillos are not normally dangerous to humans, but armadillos can harm humans by spreading diseases or parasites to them. We discuss some of the ways that armadillos can hurt humans via diseases and parasites in the next section.

Will an Armadillo Bite a Dog?

Armadillo Bite Marks

My Dog Killed an Armadillo

Can an Armadillo Kill a Cat?

Armadillos are associated with several diseases

Most people do not have to worry about getting diseases from armadillos because without touching armadillos, it is unlikely that you could catch a disease from them. Some people, however, try to pet or catch armadillos with their bare hands. Additionally, people who trap armadillos sometimes forget to handle them with gloves when releasing them. For your awareness, here are some of the diseases that Armadillos can carry and transmit to humans.

Leprosy

The link between the armadillo and leprosy has not been heavily tested, but there a leprosy risk associated with armadillos. Louisiana conducted a study on their state’s armadillos population and found 53% of Louisiana’s armadillos had leprosy. While around one in two armadillos having leprosy seems alarming, it’s rare for them to transmit leprosy to humans. Armadillos are the only animal that transmits leprosy to humans but it is done so by attacking humans with its claws (which, again, is a rare occurrence)

A video explaining some armadillo infection vectors

Rabies

The armadillo can also carry rabies. This is a virus that can kill any mammal including humans. Since the armadillo is not known to bite it is not as likely to transmit this disease as a raccoon or skunk would.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are parasites that can be transmitted to and infect the human digestive system.

Salmonella

Armadillos can also transmit salmonella, which is a serious health risk to humans.

Hansen’s Disease

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, armadillos can spread the bacteria that transmits Hansen’s disease, there’s a very low risk of this happening. Still, despite the low risk of catching Hansen’s disease from armadillos, the CDC still recommends avoiding armadillos.

Are Armadillos Poisonous?

How to remove armadillos from your property

With all the disturbing problems armadillos present when living on your property; it is best not to take matters into your own hands to remove them. You could put yourself and your family at risk of damage, distress, and disease. When you come into contact with their fecal matter or their claws you could contract a serious disease.

Removal of armadillos should be left to professionals because it is very difficult for an amateur to safely get rid of them. However, if you decide that you really want to try your hand at armadillo relocation by yourself, I would recommend using a trap like this one…

Try placing Armadillo bait in the trap without setting it for about a week. This will get the Armadillo accustomed to eating from inside the trap and make them less skittish. After about a week of keeping the Armadillo well fed, you will want to put on some gloves to mask your scent and place food in the trap and set it. What should happen if you are lucky, is that the Armadillo will go about its routine of walking into the trap to find food.

The Armadillo is used to getting food inside your trap with no ill consequences, this time should set off the trap if you kept your scent from interfering, and then you will have caught an Armadillo which you can safely relocate far away from your house. Please share any more tips you have for Armadillo removal or prevention in the comment section below best of luck to you!

Additional Armadillo Bite Resources:

  1. Techniques to Prevent and Control Armadillo Damage – University of Missouri
  2. How to Keep Armadillos Away – Never Pest
  3. Baiting the Nine-banded Armadillo – University of Florida
  4. Armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus – Alabama Wildlife Management​
Published
Categorized as Armadillos

By David Jackson

I enjoy learning about new pest control strategies and sharing what I learn at NeverPest.com. I aim to create a reliable resource for people dealing with all sorts of pest issues.

1 comment

  1. Yikes, I didn’t know that armadillos carried so many disease. The fact that they can also transmit leprosy is scary. I don’t live in an area where armadillos are prevalent, but if I see one I will definitely call pest control.

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