Friday, July 04, 2014

Panzerschwein

While I was walking last night, I came across three armadillos, quite young, foraging for insects. The armadillos in this area are all nine-banded armadillos, like the one below from Wikimedia Commons, although the three I saw were younger and more even-colored gray; I suspect they were about six to seven months old, since I saw no mother.

Nine banded armadillo

Armadillos will eat practically anything, but in ordinary situations prefer insects; so they typically feed by digging their snouts into the ground to create little pits. This will uncover any insects (which they can scent through the soil) and also creates traps -- they will occasionally go back to the same pit to check if any insects have fallen into it.

There's something poetic about armadillos, although since they are not exactly beautiful animals it's difficult to pin down what it is. I think a lot of it is that they just seem very amiable. They can move very quickly, but they usually don't; they just shuffle and amble along, minding their own business, until a threat comes along, and then they prefer to avoid rather than fight. It can be a pest, but it's only an incidental one -- it likes to burrow, and can do some damage with its foliage.

Panzerschwein, by the way, seems to be originally Texan-German for the species; when armadillos started showing up in Texas at the end of the nineteenth century, it was the word coined for them in places around Fredericksburg and the like with a high proportion of German settlers (and which still have strong German roots).

3 comments:

  1. branemrys5:36 PM

    These cultural pockets are often the generators of a surprising amount of cultural substance.

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  2. itinérante2:00 AM

    Oh Brandon you are so lucky!! These look so so sweet and pretty!! I have never in my life seen one (I do not think we have them around in my country)...
    I have a vague memory that they were a cartoon character in a movie I loved... something becoming a ball and making the duo win or so... sad I cannot remember but I loved him and I thought they were not real... (je dormirai moins bête ce soir grâce à vous! Merci!)

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  3. branemrys6:24 AM

    The armadillos that become a ball are different species (I think they are all still in South America, where all armadillos originate), but it's a feature that shows up in a lot of cartoon versions of them, so you're probably right that you've come across it. There definitely is something nice about them.

    ReplyDelete

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