Armadillo Diseases: Do Armadillos Carry Leprosy

Leprosy is one of the most common issues associated with armadillos. Many people believe these animals to be carriers of the disease. In case you aren’t sure of what EXACTLY leprosy is, it is an infectious disease that causes lesions on the skin as well as potential nerve damage. Today, leprosy is not considered highly contagious and is a curable disease. Armadillos have been known to be carriers of the disease, and have the capability to spread it to humans. Don’t panic! This doesn’t mean that if you touch an armadillo on accident, you’re going to get lesions and lose feeling in that part of your hand. Typically, leprosy is only transferred from armadillos to humans by consumption. Yes, consumption, as in eating them. It is not uncommon in rural southern areas for people to eat roadkill, and some of that road kill just happens to be armadillos. What’s for dinner, ma? Mmmmmmm, leprosy.

Armadillo in the trap
Live cage style traps are the best for catching armadillos

Other than leprosy, armadillos do not carry many other diseases. This is probably due in part to their low body temperature, which makes it difficult for many virus’ to survive in their bloodstream. While uncommon, it is not completely impossible. You may on occasion come onto an armadillo with rabies. An armadillo with rabies may not necessarily be aggressive, but they will be much less shy than a normal armadillo. They will also be more common during the day. Armadillos can also be carriers of salmonella, which can be contracted from handling an armadillo. It can especially affect young children and older people. Their feces is also known to carry tapeworms. These worms attack the intestines of the host, and especially in humans can cause severe weight loss and severe intestinal problems. People often can only contract this by coming in contact with armadillo feces, possibly when investigating the burrow.

Armadillo in leaves
Armadillos like to hide in piles of leaves

While armadillos may not carry a whole slew of diseases, they do carry some serious ones. It is important to wear gloves and other protective gear if you feel you may come in contact with an armadillo or their feces. Also, just for safety measures, please don’t eat your armadillo.