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In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin tells us:

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected.

From this, we should not be particularly surprised that a species in the Lone Star State that appears to be enjoying a bit of reproductive success right now is one particularly suited to its environment, and the weapons available to the local apex predator. I speak of none but the humble armadillo . . .

The Washington Post has the story:

An East Texas man ended up in the hospital after he fired a gun at an armadillo and the bullet bounced off the animal’s back and hit the man in his face, according to news reports.

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe told Reuters that the shooting took place on the man’s property in Marietta, Tex. — population 134 — about 3 a.m. Thursday.

“His wife was in the house,” Rowe said. “He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo….

At least one of the bullets ricocheted off the animal’s bony, protective shell and then struck the man in his jaw, according to Reuters.

Rowe told the wire service that the injury was serious enough that the gunman had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital, where doctors wired his jaw shut. The armadillo’s condition remains a mystery.

Amazingly, this isn’t the first time that the natural armor of the armadillo has felled the hot lead and cold steel of a would-be predator.

In April, a Georgia man accidentally shot his mother-in-law when he fired a pistol at an armadillo, according to ABC affiliate WALB News. The bullet killed the animal, but it “also ricocheted off of it, hit a fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s mobile home, through a recliner she was sitting in, and into her back….”

The shooter was about 100 yards away from the mobile home, police later determined. The victim — 74-year-old Carol Johnson — was not severely injured and no charges were filed in the case.

Investigator Bill Smith of the Lee County, Georgia Sheriff’s office offered the following advice for those on the prowl for the armadillo: “I really think if they’re going to shoot at varmints and whatnot, maybe use a shotgun.. with a spread pattern with a lot less range.”

Do what you like. If I’m looking to bag me a ‘dillo, I’m bringing my Garand.


DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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  1. Pistol against an armored critter, not the best choice. Bet the guy who shot his M-I-L in the back will hear about it for years. I actually liked my Mother in Law and she thought I hung the moon, dang if I ever figured out why though.

      • I’ve heard this particular line of BS before. The bullet didn’t ricochet off the ‘dillo, it went through it and probably hit a rock. This is why I don’t like it when people shoot ground squirrels or woodchucks from low angles. Too easy for the bullet to pass through a small critter and skip off a rock. I’ve seen that happen. If you’re gonna go after small ground game, I think stuff like the 17 Mach II or 17 HMR with polymer/ballistic tip bullets is best. Those come apart fast and are less prone to ricochet than something like copper plated 22 LR.

        • agreed, the lil 17 grain pills at high velocity do really good terminal damage and don’t over penetrate, even on small things like chipmunks and beldings ground squirrels. and if you do miss the odd shot, I have never had one bounce up, they desindergrate.

  2. We always used a shotgun around my house.I never knew they were that tough either. I want to say I’ve used birdshot for them also.

  3. Back in the old days a .222 Remington would have worked well, but .223 is available for modern times.
    Just make sure you do not shoot Cecil the Armadillo or his brother Jericho though.

  4. Guy at the LGS recommended .22 magnum from a Heritage revolver with a 6-inch barrel. Haven’t had the opportunity to try it yet. But I would have liked to on the critters that dug up my back yard looking for grubs…

    • More likely raccoons looking for grubs…had the same problem and finally found a poor elderly coon tottering around half blind one night, the culprit spreading wood chips all over digging holes in flower beds. Couldn’t help but feel sorry for him- a hop skip and a stumble for a hungry urban coyote, so I just shoo’ed him off with a broom. Do NOT try this will a bull healthy bull coon, or let your GSD out the door at night to handle it, or someone is gonna get ripped up good.

      • Wrist-rocket in caliber 3/8″ hexnut works to get the bigger coons to moving out. Negative conditioning,
        And no late night visits from my socal suburban cops.

        I just use the broom to push the possums off the top of the fence into my neighbors yard.
        Throw a few rotten apples and oranges over the fence, to give them something to keep ’em there.
        Positive conditioning.

        Hate that neighbor.

      • Could be coons I guess, there are plenty of both hereabouts. I seem to recall actually catching a ‘dillo in the act, tho, at a different time in a different part of the yard. I’ll have to refurbish my wrist-rocket I guess, we are technically in town and are not supposed to be discharging firearms at all.

    • .22 mag from a revolver is no hotter than .22 lr hypervelocity from a rifle. That said .22 lr Velocitors from a rifle would do the trick. So would 7.62×39 from an AK. If using a shotty, go buck not bird shot.

  5. Pistols have always worked just fine for me — I usually carry a .40 when out in the yard. However, .338 Win. Mag. is particularly effective. (A couple years ago, as I was getting ready to depart the deer-stand after a particularly frustrating opening day, a ‘dillo came along, and I couldn’t resist . . .)

  6. I’ve heard these stories for years but have never had any issues with killing them. Most people with a pasture full of cows will raise a straight up jihad against the armadillo. They not only tear up the fields but leave holes that can break a cow’s leg.

    • That’s the reason I shoot groundhogs in my horse and cow pastures up here in Ohio.

      I also dump used cat litter down groundhog holes. The overwhelming odor of cat pee seems to give them the idea that they’re not welcome.

  7. Bust out the m855 on thise bastards no sporting purposes my ass! (Its a bullshit clause anyway that we have to have sporting purposes.)

      • Was gonna chime in with a 66 rambler station wagon. Seemed to work just fine. If you rolled them under the front end and they bounced just right they made a racket all the way out the back end.

        Ford pickup seemed to sit too high to be a sure thing. You could roll over them completely without hitting them.

  8. What to use on an armadillo? Of course .44 Magnum with a 240 grain semi-jacketed softpoint baby! Hey, if that is enough gun to bring down a 400 pound hog or black bear, it has to be enough to take out an armadillo!

    In all seriousness I cannot see a heavy bullet bouncing off of an armadillo. I have to believe that any bullet in excess of 150 grains and 800 fps is going to take out an armadillo. But I have never shot one so what do I know?

  9. Ok, I’ve never shot one, but I’ve caught them by hand. People shoot them all the time. I could be way off but I’m not buying these bullet-bouncing stories. I think rocks caused the ricochets.

    • I think you and Uncle Fester are on to something. My impression is that the “armor’ is more like leather than bone.

  10. they have started serious migration into Missouri the last several years, but when I drove from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, back in 1999, their interstate was curb to curb with road kills, so would agree with the gentleman who stated front auto tires will work most times. this last week, the news stated they spread leprosy, so lets get rid of all of them before we have an ebola type epidemic.

    • Well, it’s not much like ebola. It’s not very contagious, and it’s been in armadillos in the Gulf states for decades, with only a few people catching the disease. it’s curable nowadays too.. I used to catch them for fun when I was a kid and never got sick.

    • Growing up in Texas, I was told that their self defense mechanism when scared was to jump up. Allegedly, this caused the abnormal amount of Armadillo roadkill -> they jumped into the underside of vehicles and were killed even if the vehicle’s tires missed it.

      I have no idea if those stories are true.

  11. They only recently starting coming out in force in my area of the US.

    I’ve successfully killed one with my Glock 26 which is my EDC but usually I go get the Hi-Point 995TS carbine. It’s cheaper since it’s loaded with FMJ and my G26 has the pricier SD JHP. It also easier to kill the buggers in low light conditions with a rifle.

  12. A 22LR rifle has worked on several armadillo I’ve encountered in Mississippi. Can’t speak for Texas versions. Maybe they’re bigger…

    • I shot one last night, around 10p digging in the yard. Glock 19 w/124gr. HP round and hit his TDC of his back, saw the hole as he jumped around, sumbich ran off though, much to my amazement. Toughest one in the Ozarks. Killed one last fall and left no doubt as he was DRT with the use of a AR and a green tip, 5.56, 62gr. Lake City NATO round. Little hole going in, shredded him from midline to his rear. Those things are more than a nuisance, they can cause structural damage to a home…”Kill ’em all, let satan sort ’em out!”

  13. .950 JDJ, because I want to send ’em to Mars…

    Nah, can’t say I actually know what I’d use on one…don’t have ’em this far north. Just opossums and raccoons, 33″ tall Duratracs do a good job on those, though.

  14. They have got so brazen around my house in Ga., that they come out in the day time and dig up my yard. At least it did until I shot it with my 22 rifle. So all you need to kill one is a 22.

  15. Just about any caliber will dispatch an armadillo with proper shot placement. That being said, some of us have better luck with other implements.

    My nickname among my motorcycling friends in the Ozarks used to be Possum Killa – I had run over (and presumably killed) a possum on a state highway at o’dark thirty one morning. Its timing was perfect, my speed (85mph give or take) more than sufficent to ensure forward momentum post-impact. I’m not even sure I ran over it with the rear wheel. For all I know it might even have made it to the ditch.

    Several more possums met similarly ignominous ends, although it was usually underneath the wheels of my Chevy Tracker instead of a bike – I liked to drive the back roads in the country side at night, and often at high speeds. It was a given that possums would be casualties from time to time (I think 8 or 9 in a few years).

    Then I got back in the saddle again, and maybe a year or so later I rounded a right hand curve near town at speed, and just like Mister Possum, his armadillo cousin had impeccably fatal timing. Hitting an armadillo at speed is just like hitting a possum, but the difference is that the armadillo’s a lot crunchier.


    • Can’t say I’ve done anything like that, but I have had a bird fly directly into my face shield. It sounded like a shotgun went off inside the helmet. The bird didn’t make it, so I am able to tell people that I have killed with nothing more than my face.

    • I can verify that I did once hit a squirrel with just the back tire of my motorcycle, a 1982 CM 250 Honda at the time. The little idiot tried to run between the tires to cross the road, didn’t quite make it. I think he was related to the one I saw have a car run over but completely clear (no injury to the rodent), which then sat up for the next vehicle coming through.

  16. My father killed one with a 22lr rifle and that was his last round in the rifle, so to kill the second one (two had gotten into the garage) he grabbed a 300 Savage rifle. The soft point went through the armadillo, ricocheted off the concrete floor and punched a hole in the roof.

  17. My friends garden was being destroyed by a persistent armadillo. I happened to be there with my m&p15 one of the times the little guy came about and a single round of .223 to the body was an instantaneous kill, I was shocked at its effectiveness.

    .223/5.56 is perfect for the job in this guy’s opinion

  18. i live in southern louisiana and for years i only saw dead dilos on the side of the roads. it was like the popped up like dead mushrooms overnight. my last interaction with them happened when i was sitting in a lawn chair in my back yard. a small heard of them came out of the woods and started rooting around. one walked right up next to me and i swatted it with the book i was reading, while still sitting in the chair.

    i wasn’t reading a robert jordan so it wasn’t a very big or high caiber book. the dilo took off like a strapped ape for all of four feet, ran over my foot and stopped on the other side of the chair where i could have hit it again if i wanted. i decided not to because i didn’t want to break the spine of the book.

  19. Wouldn’t a shotgun be pretty stupid? I mean, shot richochets pretty easily (round balls at low velocity, c’mon guys, this is high school physics).

    Personally, I’d use an intermediate cartridge like 7.62x39mm.

  20. The bullet ricocheted from whatever it hit after either missing the critter or passing through it. I once bifurcated an armadillo with a pocket .380 with all four rounds (only one was necessary, but it was dusk and I wanted to be sure) going through both sides. But the bullets’ backstop was the lawn. All told I’ve delivered hot 9-banded death with .22LR, .223, .380, .38, .357, .44spl, Kaiser blades, and various automobiles, but my weapon of choice is a .30-30.

  21. Im going with the North Koreans solution to unwanted pests, If it’s good enough for 2 legged critters, it should be good enough for 4 legged ones too….Antiaircraft gun for 200 Alex.

  22. Disappointed you guys are spreading this BS story. Armadillos are the exact opposite of bullet-proof. Their shells are effective against predators’ teeth and that’s all.

    • Not against pit bull teeth, apparently. Had one get in the backyard at the wrong time. Heard some strange noises, and went outside to see my two bullies playing tug-o-war with the dillo. Got the dogs off of the dillo, and got them inside. Went out to pick up the dead critter and saw a staggering amount of holes in it’s shell, among other wounds.

    • A F-150 will do the job. I have bagged squirrels, opossums, groundhogs, armadillos and various birds and insects with mine. I haven’t had the misfortune for killing big game though. Like deer, cows, horses and wild hogs. The F-150 is a killing machine when it is moving.

  23. Sorry, I don’t want leprosy. I don’t hunt animals I won’t eat unless it’s pest control, and I’m not aware of armadillos being pests. I’m not touching one of those things with a ten foot pole. (Armadillos are a reservoir of the disease, as well as other serious diseases like Chagas disease.) Their diet consists of insects and other small invertebrates, which is helpful to humans. They are not aggressive and flee from predators. But if they did prove to be a pest (perhaps because of their digging and rooting for food and their creation of burrows) or I had some other good reason to kill them, I’m thinking a high velocity round would do the trick. I think a .223/5.56mm or 5.45x39mm varmint round would be ideal with the armor posing no obstacle and little chance of deflection. But I’d actually do the research to see what armadillo hunters use with success before I went after the critters myself.

  24. An AR in 5.56 should do the trick. M855 might indeed have a purpose other than being cheap and penetrating certain things better. Other wise .30-06 M2AP out of a Garand (or an HCAR 😀 :D) or whatever they call the .308 Blacktip AP stuff out of whatever you like.

  25. 357 Sig works quite well. The owner of the land I hunt on, told me to take out any armadillos and hogs that I can, so that’s what I do. Also……pit bulls are pretty effective, too!

  26. As the colder temps are settling into N FL, what is the best time of day to see them out and about?
    Our overnight lows are approaching low 50’s to mid-40’s.
    Are these nuisance pests active around dusk?
    Is there a bait I can place out to attract the creature? I have 5 acres but I have been finding their burrow holes closer to the house recently.


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