Armadillos expand their territory through mid-Missouri
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Conservation reports that armadillos continue to expand their territory northward in Missouri.
Native to South America, the armadillo crossed the Rio Grande in 1850 into the United States. The species has been moving northeast ever since. Reaching Missouri in 1950 they did not inhabit the middle of the state until 1990. Continuing to move north it was not until 2005 that the species reached the Missouri-Iowa line.
Adam Doerhoff of the Dept. of Conservation said the only major barrier to their expansion has been the Missouri River. However, armadillos are actually strong swimmers and can hold their breath to crawl along the bottom of streams when necessary, allowing them to overcome this obstacle.
"Because the Missouri river is quite a barrier for them we tend to see quite fewer armadillos north of the river, around Jefferson City and south you would see a lot more," Doerhoff said.
The armadillo naturally inhabits warm, moist climates like Missouri. Doerhoff said their expansion north will end where the winters prove too cold for the animals to survive. The animals are also highly reproductive with few natural preditors so they continue to grow in numbers.
"It's believed that they are getting somewhat near the northern extent of their range," Doerhoff said.