Pest control business targets armadillos

Todd Adkins of Critter Control, a local pest control business, is used to handling critters of all kinds. But lately, he has been stalking a particular type of prey...Armadillos.

An increased number of the oversized rodents have been reported recently in a Cordova neighborhood.

"They're not the smartest things we go after," Adkins said. "They act on instinct.  Their nose tells them something is not right, and they're gone."

The animals have left damage in many yards in the Cordova neighborhood, digging holes with their sharp claws  Adkins says they often dig for small creatures like bugs, earthworms, and grubs.  Last year Adkins took one phone call about an armadillo in the area.  This year, "we're taking 15 to 20 a week," he said.

But the invasion didn't happen over night.  "Over a 10 year time frame, they've moved into Shelby County," Adkins said.

The warm dry summers help facilitate the movement of the animals into the area.  Though some residents have expressed concerns about humans contracting leprosy, an infection disease that armadillos sometimes carry, Adkins said cases are rare.  The most common way people contract diseases from the animals is when the eat their undercooked meat.

Armadillos are also dangerous when it comes to driving on Mid-South roads.  Dan Springer of Memphis/Shelby County Vector controls says the animals get startled easily and are mostly blind.  On instinct, they often run out in the middle of the road and get hit by passing vehicles.  Springer urges drivers to watch out for the animals.