How would you like to wake up one morning and find yourself as a citizen of a different country? Back in 1845 thatís exactly what happened. That is when everything north of the Rio Grande River became part of America. All the Indians, resident Mexicans, settlers and wildlife woke up one December morning and found themselves American citizens. They had become Texans and Texas had become a state. The Indians had called this land Tejus or Friendly Land. Some natives remained friendly and some did not, but like it or not they were all part of Texas and America.
Can you imagine what the first Americans must have thought when they saw their first armadillo? Well now, was it a possum or tortoise? It looked like nature had played a funny trick on the opossum. Iíll bet they had a real close look at that critter. With over 200,000 square miles of wilderness there was a lot of new wildlife to be discovered. This big, new state of Texas was wild and wonderful. There were even some big cats like the ocelot and jaguar that lived in that part of the country.
At that time SeŮor Armadillo became a Texan and an American. Right away he began to expand his home territory. Iíve been told, by reliable sources, that sometime during the 1920ís a whole crate of those little critters got loose in central Florida. The wooden crate dropped off a circus wagon while it was traveling through to the next show. Since that time the armadillos have migrated as far north as Atlanta, Georgia. Before that time I have found no record of armadillos living east of the old Mississippi River.
The Nine Banded Armadillo, our only native armadillo, has very small teeth and has little or no front teeth at all. Therefore, it eats mostly soft worms and grubs. Some we rescued managed very well on soft dog food for the few months while in our care. They are not aggressive will run at the first sign of danger. They are unable to roll up in a ball like some members of the armadillo family. However, they have very powerful digging claws, front and back, and can burry themselves in a hurry in case of danger. Itís just too bad though, that they havenít learned to fear cars.
Their shell is made of scales on bony plates and is very flexible. The dens are dug under palmettos or fallen trees. Sometimes they take over the gopher tortoise holes. The Nine Banded Armadillos always have 4 babies (identical quadruplets) at the same time. At birth the babies are pinkish-white with a very soft, almost see-through shell. They are cute but can be very difficult to raise as babies. Their good hearing and sensitive nose make up for their very poor eyesight. I do believe though, that the intelligence level of these little critters is very low. When startled they run for their hole and often they stop right at the entrance. They look around as if to see if they really needed to run. Too late! Thatís when Iíll grab Ďem. It is not that they are totally ignorant, or slow or anything like that; they just misjudged my exceptional speed. Uh! Huh!
Wouldnít it be wonderful if one of these days we just woke up one bright morning and found ourselves in Heaven? No more troubles. No more school. No more work (or homework). Everybody would be happy. Families would be together again and our Creator would show us our new home He told us He was building for us. If we are already Godís children then we are already citizens of Heaven, arenít we? We just havenít moved yet. Iím really looking forward to that moving day arenít you? See you down at the Critter Corner.
- Uncle Burney
("McDonald Manna" February, 2007)