Do Armadillos Eat Sea Turtle Eggs?

I recently received the below email, which brought to my attention an issue I was not aware of - that non-indigenous armadillos in Florida have been documented to feed on sea turtle eggs and/or baby sea turtles. I myself have never observed this phenomenon, since I live in Orlando, but if this is true, then it's a problem that may necessitate armadillo trapping in vulnerable sea turtle nesting grounds. I have a summary of armadillo trapping instructions below:

You mentioned that even though armadillos are not an indigenous species to Florida, they are only a nuisance animal. I beg to differ. As a member of a wildlife conservation organization who conducts research on sea turtles I can tell you they are becoming an increasingly serious and deadly problem to baby sea turtle survival.

Since baby sea turtles begin hatching 2-3 days before they break out of their nest and head to the surf, they are extremely vulnerable to armadillo attacks before they ever emerge into the daylight. Armadillos do not eat the turtles, but they eat the yolk sac which essentially means the baby turtles that survive the violent attack will probably ultimately die before reaching the seaweed they swim to for their first meal - between 2-3 days after they make it to the water.

A recent visit to Mote Aquarium research lab verifies that the mortality rate of baby sea turtles who have been victims of a armadillo predated nest is great because of several factors including 1) starvation from lack of nutrients needed from the yolk sac before it is absorbed, 2) the physical damage to the baby's internal organs caused by the ripping away of the yolk sack, 3) the fatal infection left by the open wound, and 4) the almost immediate presence of maggots.

As a licensed volunteer who walks the beach daily to collect data and protect and preserve sea turtles, it is heart breaking to see the rampant predation of sea turtle nests by armadillos!

Please add to your blog that homeowners on and near the beaches should make every effort to trap out armadillos because they are a lethal threat to many endangered turtle species who nest on Florida's beaches!

Thank you! Karen

Summary of Step-By-Step Armadillo Trapping Instructions:
1) Purchase large cage traps - rated raccoon size, usually about 10" x 12" x 30" or so.
2) No bait is effective - set traps in areas of high armadillo activity, on trails or even on top of escape burrows. Make sure traps are scent-free and flush to the ground, line the bottom of the trap with dirt and debris, and set in the shade.
3) Relocate any trapped armadillo at least 20 miles from the coastline, or euthanize it.
4) I think it also might be effective to install an exclusion barrier at the border of the beach - steel mesh around the perimeter, and down at least 12 into the ground, with bottom of mesh sloping outward.

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More in-detail how-to armadillo removal articles:

Information about how to kill an armadillo - with poison or other methods.
Information about how to catch an armadillo - by hand or with special snares.
Information about armadillo repellent - analysis of types and effectiveness.
How to use One-way exclusion funnels to remove armadillos
What diseases do armadillos carry?
What Should I do with an Armadillo after I Catch it?
Armadillo diet

This site is intended to provide armadillo education and information about armadillos, so that you can make an informed decision if you need to deal with an armadillo problem. This site provides many armadillo control articles and strategies, if you wish to attempt to solve the problem yourself. If you are unable to do so, which is likely with many cases of armadillo removal, please go to the home page and click the USA map, where I have wildlife removal experts listed in over 500 cites and towns, who can properly help you with your nuisance armadillo.

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