This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The complexities of living with the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus): leprosy, management, and homeowner perceptions




Sciandra, Olivia

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Forestry and Wildlife Science


The management of nuisance wildlife damage is complex and requires the understanding of human perceptions, practical management methods, and species-specific factors. For the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus), management is complicated by a lack of research on effective methods and the species’ tendency to occupy urbanized areas. Although extension agents in Alabama and the remainder of the southeast United States recommend several management methods, residents’ acceptance of these methods and their tolerance for the species is not well understood. Armadillo management is also further complicated by the presence of leprosy-causing bacteria which can negatively impact armadillo populations. Leprosy may also be a public health concern, however, prevalence studies in the United States have been limited to the lower coastal plain and few studies have been conducted in Alabama. In this thesis, I address these research gaps in three studies. First, I conducted a systematic review of the existing literature related to leprosy’s impact on wild armadillo populations and the spatial and temporal patterns of infection. Next, I evaluated the prevalence of leprosy in wild armadillo populations in two Alabama counties, Mobile and Lee County, AL, and found a lower disease prevalence in central Alabama compared to the south; these findings may follow the ecologic-constraints hypothesis and be a result of different ecoregions. Finally, I evaluated Alabama residents’ tolerance for armadillos using a wildlife acceptance capacity (WAC) model and based on the results, refined this model to include a factor of disease risk perception. Residents in Alabama generally have a low tolerance for armadillos and expressed difficulties managing them on their property. The results of this thesis provide further insights into armadillo management in the southeast and the current prevalence of leprosy infection in populations further north of the Gulf Coast.