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Planet Earth

Movin' On Up: Armadillos are Expanding

Armadillos are expanding their range northward.

By Eric BetzMarch 10, 2017 6:00 AM
Armadillo Range Map - Discover/J Biogeography
(Credit: Dan Bishop/Discover after Taulman et al. 2014 Journal of Biogeography)

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Armadillos roamed the Western Hemisphere during the Ice Age. But by the time naturalist John James Audubon first noted their presence in 1854, the mammals had just a tiny toehold north of the U.S.-Mexico border along Texas’ hot Rio Grande Valley, with a broader range across Mexico and countries farther south. Since then, armadillos have been ceaselessly marching north and east, with scientists citing climate change as a likely factor. The critters are tough to study, living much of their lives underground and avoiding above-ground traps, so researchers track them via live sightings by the public and numerous reports of armadillo roadkill. Despite their less-than-stellar self-preservation skills, their march continues.

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