Last week Peg and I drove down I-44 from the eastern edge of Missouri to the eastern edge of Oklahoma. We observed the remains of a few deer, several opossums, one or two raccoons and over one hundred dead armadillos on the roadside. The normal final position of an armadillo was on its scaled back with its clawed paws stuck straight up. Occasionally a beer can would be nestled among the claws. Frequently the carcasses were totally flat. This phenomenon occurred so often it became obvious people went out of their way to squash the critters. Such a violent reaction to the mere existence of the armadillos becomes understandable if one should have to deal with the creatures on a daily basis.
Gentle Reader, you probably grew up as I did encountering an armadillo only when you wandered through northern Mexico or, perhaps, southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas or California. I recall being amused by the resemblance to something akin to a roly-poly dinosaur. And the sightings were so rare I was excited to come across one of the adorable little oddities of nature.
It was not until the beginning of the 21st century that I began to notice the evermore prevalent incursions of armadillos as they have migrated north, east and west. Peg, who was born in New York and reared in Indiana by way of Massachusetts, used to be amazed at the “little armored ones” as named by Spanish speaking peoples in South America. In fact, as we arrived last week to our cabin in North-East Oklahoma we almost ran over an armadillo waddling along the lane to our door.
“Oh, Jim, look, we have our very own armadillo!” I kept my thoughts to myself but they involved a shotgun.
The day after we arrived Peg was all excited to go to Lowe’s and purchase about $300.00 worth of plants such as herbs, vegetables and flowers. She worked all of one day planting, watering and protecting them from rabbits and deer with special fencing. Actually, Peg instructed me in this regard. Regardless, when we checked on the plants the next day every one had been clawed up by a “cute” armadillo looking for grubs, ants and worms.
Peg’s response was about like one might expect when asking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi how much she planned to contribute to President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. As this article will appear in several family-oriented newspapers I shall not quote Peg’s actual words other than the part where she asked, “Where’s your shotgun?”