Over the years we've been delighted and fascinated by most of our unexpected suburban visitors, especially after we transitioned from having two dogs running loose out in the back. Since then, with only indoor cats in the official menagerie, we've left certain areas of our lot alone, created and maintained specific habitat supports, and happily observed as the numbers and varieties of visitors increased.
Some nocturnal regulars are observed indirectly by the tell-tale signs they leave behind, such as the dirty mess when local raccoons raiding our compost heap and bird feeders wash up their spoils on the top pool stair.
Armadillos as well, have left behind any number of grub hunting holes, though we'd rarely see them lumbering about.
This morning however, the Hub and a litter of four young armadillos were mutually surprised as he was working on the pool and they were emerging from a burrowed hole that is beneath the rock work around their "pond".
To our relief and despite our attempts to herd them in any particular direction, one by one they all found stairs at either end of the pool and clambered out. All while the Hub and I expressed anxious mutual dread at the idea they might tire and drown.
It turns out our state small mammals are excellent swimmers. Armadillos can inflate their intestines in order to stay afloat and potentially swim long distances (otherwise their heavy carapace weighs them down). They are also capable of holding their breath for up to six minutes, which reportedly allows them to sink and walk across creek and river beds.
Nobody, human or otherwise, was harmed by the swimming pool surprise this morning (if you don't count the adrenaline surge the Hub experienced). We're not thrilled to have what is apparently an active burrow so close to the pool, but the shy creatures are more typically out and about at night so there is no immediately obvious reason to try and relocate them.
|Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)|
That's a most interesting lesson I keep learning from our wilder neighbors. No matter how we arrange our beds and paths and features, they have their own requirements and their own ideas about where is ideal to set up shop.
I remind myself these are historically their spaces - they were all around long before our houses intruded, and will remain around long after we've moved on.
I may just have this who is providing habitat for whom thing backwards.