A roll of nine-banded armadillos appears to be making themselves at home in apartment communities around Grapevine, Texas.
The small armored creatures have been spotted within apartment communities such as Cross Creek at Grapevine Ranch, Marquis at Silver Oaks, as well as in the surrounding forested area.
Nine-banded armadillos are indigenous to Texas and have been designated as the state’s official small mammal. While they tend to steer clear of urban settings and generally prefer rural areas, that has not stopped a group of armadillos from moving into some Grapevine apartments.
Hunter Burcham, a resident of Cross Creek, told The Dallas Express that he thought the creatures living in the complex were a “nuisance.”
“First off, there are a ton of little kids that live near me that are very susceptible to leprosy but secondly, which is the larger concern for me, is my dogs,” he continued.
However, management at Cross Creek at Grapevine Ranch told The Dallas Express that the presence of the creatures on the property has not been a cause for concern and that residents have not reported any incidents regarding them.
The CDC, however, still recommends that people avoid contact with armadillos when possible due to the risk of contracting leprosy.
Nine-banded armadillos can naturally carry a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae, which could lead to Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, in humans.
Leprosy is a chronic but curable affliction that damages the peripheral nerves while targeting the skin, eyes, nose, and muscles. The disease often causes skin lesions, nerve damage, and blindness and is typically contracted through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal.
Although the transmission of the disease from armadillo to humans is generally unlikely, experts advise against having direct contact with the animal and suggest wearing gloves if necessary.
AAAC Wildlife Removal further notes that “At least 95% of the human population has a natural immunity to leprosy. In addition, the pathogen that causes leprosy, Mycobacterium leprae, can only live in the goldilocks temperature inside the gut of an armadillo or a human.”
While incidents of leprosy in the United States are rare, the CDC reported that 185 new cases were recorded in 2019, mostly occurring in Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, New York, and Texas.