BREESE — Giving proof of the critter’s northward migration into Illinois, an armadillo has been found in Breese.
Clinton County Animal Control picked up the animal and delivered it to Penny Moon to be transported to Tree House Rescue.
They report that while armadillo have the ability to carry the bacterium that causes leprosy in humans, the risk of contracting leprosy from an armadillos is extremely low.
Scientists believe that in order to contract leprosy from an armadillo, one must handle armadillos frequently and/or consume armadillo meat.
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.