BOND COUNTY — They’re coming here from the south, and their numbers are spreading as they move further north into Illinois.
Armadillos are being more frequently sighted in Illinois, with one reportedly being struck on a Bond County road earlier this month.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says armadillos have been slowly expanding their territory further north in Illinois over the last few decades have been sighted in northern counties in Illinois, but the majority of sightings have occurred in the southern third of the state.
There have been more than 160 sightings of armadillos in Illinois since the 1990s. Of these, only a couple dozen sightings have been confirmed through photos or specimens.
Armadillos can only survive in areas with a constant source of water that have annual temperatures above 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since they depend heavily on insects as a food source, have very little hair, and do not hibernate, armadillos cannot survive when the ground is frozen for more than a few days.
IDNR reports they have had reliable reports of armadillo sighting this summer from Hancock, Macoupin, Montgomery, Cass and Sangamon counties.
Armadillos are the size of a large cat, but their body shape resembles that of an opossum.
According to a 2008 report, the most recent, from the Illinois Natural History Survey, from 1990 through March 2008, at least 166 armadillos were documented or reported from 42 Illinois counties. Eighty-eight percent of armadillo locations that could be mapped were south of a line through central Calhoun and southern Greene counties. Ninety-one percent of the sightings occurred after 2000.
Some live animals were observed, but most reports were of apparent road kills, according to the report.
IDNR notes that while armadillos like to dig, they do not pose any risks to native wildlife.
Recent reports from Florida, however, have noted that armadillos are capable of carrying leprosy, but infection rates are generally low.
If you believe you have seen an armadillo, the IDNR asks that you report the sighting to your nearest University of Illinois Extension office.