Armadillos Making Inroads into Eastern Missouri

AUGUST 14, 2006 - Posted at 7:58 a.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS, MO - More armadillos are showing up in eastern Missouri.

The reptiles have been here for more than 20 years, but wildlife biologists for the Missouri Department of Conservation says they're increasingly common in Crawford and Washington counties, near St. Louis.

The small armored animals have long been associated with warm weather Southern states, but they've been showing that they can adapt to winter weather in central Missouri and southern Illinois.

The football-sized creatures have big claws and a long nose, and they feast on the beetles, grubs and earthworms they dig up.

Since reaching Texas in the mid-1800s, armadillo have pushed into the southeast and now the lower Midwest.  But despite their preference for warmer weather, scientists say its too soon to tell if global warming is contributing to their migration.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)