ROCKINGHAM — Sarah Stogner was on her way to take out the trash this past weekend when she saw an unusual animal in the yard.
It wasn’t the Easter bunny…but an armadillo.
Stogner said she had been baking in preparation for Easter Sunday late Friday night when she decided to take the trash out around 10:15 p.m. at her home in the Richmond Park neighborhood.
“I knew something was out there, but didn’t know what it was at first,” she recalled in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.
Stogner said once she realized what it was, she didn’t want to walk past it and thought to herself: “I’m going to turn around and go back inside — which is exactly what I did.”
She continued to watch it from the window, but says she didn’t take a photo.
Stogner estimated the armadillo to be around 10-15 pounds, about the size of a “very big cat.”
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission issued a press release on Monday asking residents to report sightings of nine-banded armadillos in the state.
Click here to read the press release.
Native to Central and South America, the nine-banded armadillo was first documented in Texas in the mid-1800s and migrated eastward along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River states, including Florida and western Tennessee. The range also extends south to Argentina.
Stogner said she had heard people talking about seeing them in South Carolina.
According to the NCWRC, the state’s first reported sighting of an armadillo was in Macon County in 2007.
Since then, the small mammal has expanded its range — with more than 800 reports in 70 counties — throughout most of the mountain counties and along the southern border, with Richmond County being the only exception — until now.
(Note: The sighting in neighboring Anson County is labeled as an unconfirmed report.)
“Confirmed observations are those in which a photograph or carcass was available to confirm species identification and location of observation,” reads a state report on armadillo expansion. “Credible observations are those in which a photograph or carcass was not available but based on other information provided and the observer (e.g., biologist, researcher), the observation was determined to be that of an armadillo. Unconfirmed observations are reports in which no evidence is provided or available, and the NCWRC cannot confirm that the observation was definitively an armadillo.”
The report says that some sightings of supposed armadillos killed by vehicles have actually been misidentified snapping turtles.
In nearly half of the observations from 2007-2022, the reported armadillo was dead, with 98% being hit by vehicles.
According to the report, there have been confirmed sightings in 28 counties, credible observations in 23 counties and unconfirmed observations in 19 counties. The only confirmed observation east of the Interstate 95 corridor is in Dare County. The report does not specify if it was on the mainland or the Outer Banks.
Breeding populations have been observed in Cherokee, Clay, Jackson, Macon, Swain and Transylvania counties, all in the western corner of the state, according to the report.
Armadillos can damage lawns and tree roots by burrowing.
Stogner said she reported her sighting after reading the press release in the Richmond Observer, but hadn’t heard back as of Tuesday.
Anyone who sees an armadillo is encouraged to report it to the NCWRC by uploading a photo to the iNaturalist app or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reports should include a photo, if available; the date and time of observation; and a detailed location, preferably with GPS coordinates.