The Urbane Armadillo               <--Prev : Next-->

Fridays are trash days in Highland Village Texas and another similarity between Zimbabwe and Texas is that you put our trash out on Thursday night and wake up to find it all scattered across the lawn !

But for a very different reason. Back home its the poor lost homeless souls who dig in the rubbish bin and scatter garbage all over the place, followed hot on their heels are the crows who continue with the messy business, but outside brother in law David's house it's that there darn armadillo called Fred !!

The armadillo is the state mammal of Texas, it looks like a pangolin with ears !

The Nine-banded Armadillo is a cat-sized, armored, insect-eating mammal. Similar in form to an anteater, the bony, scaled shell of the armadillo protects it from attacks by predators. Unfortunately, armadillos often fall victim to automobiles and are frequently found dead on roadsides.

Although occasionally considered a nuisance by home owners, the armadillo's habit of digging up lawns is driven by its appetite for grubs, which can also harm lawns.

They eat insects and other invertebrates and are skilled at digging for grubs, although they occasionally eats berries and bird eggs.

Now Fred surprised the neighbourhood by producing four babies this year. All four young, always of the same sex apparently , are identical quadruplets and developed from the same egg. They even share a single placenta while in the womb. Armadillos are the only mammals in which multiple young form from a single egg with any regularity. And Fred has developed a penchant for rice from the Chinese Takeaway down the road. !!

Although the Armadillo was originally native to South America it has over the centuries found it's way as far north as Texas, Louisiana and Arizona and because there has been so much development in rural America the habitat of the Armadillo has changed so much that it is now found residing in urban areas !!

Hence the presence of this delightfully shy little creature in our front hedge !! And hence Fred's enforced change in diet from grubs to rice from the Chinese takeaway.

Now most leftovers of that nature are thrown down those electric garbage munchers that are found in every American sink !!

These nifty if scary gadgets are there to grind up vegetable peelings, plate scrapings, all the nasties that usually get thrown into the trash in Zimbabwe, but in the States the garbage cans are usually kept in the garage and get klunky after a few days in the searing Texas heat, so much safer aromatically if thrown into the garbage grinder.

But if there is so much as a single grain of rice in our garbage, Fred and his brood can smell it from twenty yards away and they make it their nocturnal and very messy duty to find it !!

So far so good as far as the little families nocturnal wanderings, the neighbourhood cars have an unwritten rule to slow down on our corner and watch out for Fred and her armour plated brood as they scurry around from yard to yard looking for grubs and berries during the week and waiting for their gourmet dinner on trash days !!.