Alarming News|About Armadillos


     I don’t want to frighten you, but we have received some disturbing news about armadillos.
     They’re wounding people with guns, for starters.
     Perhaps it’s not entirely the armadillos’ fault. The people are the ones with the guns.
     Last week a man told his sheriff that he “felt compelled to shoot at the armadillo” after seeing it around his yard. So he shot it three times with a .38 revolver, and one shot – the third, we may assume – bounced back and hit him in the face. He was hospitalized and his jaw was wired shut.
     Reuters news service, in the sort of top-notch work we expect from it, reported that the armadillo survived, but its condition is unknown.
     Need I add that the man was from Texas?
     Need I report that it happened at 3 a.m.?
     It was the second gunshot wound by armadillo this year – that we know about. An armadillo wounded a woman the same way in April. This time a man shot it with a 9mm pistol and it ricocheted off and wounded his mother in law. The man’s mother in law, not the armadillo’s. She was not badly injured, but the armadillo died.
     Need I report that the man was from Georgia?
     Need I report that it happened on a weekend night?
     But that’s not all. Armadillos are responsible for an “unusual spike in leprosy cases in Florida.” Armadillos are the only animal besides humans who get the disease, which has been pretty well eradicated in the United States, except for about 50 cases a year – many of them, I’m afraid, involving armadillos.
     Nine leprosy cases have been reported already this year in Florida.
     Leprosy, like tuberculosis, is spread by saliva.
     I do not want to insinuate that people down there are French-kissing armadillos, but Florida is a Republican state.
     Most people know armadillos only from seeing them run over on the road. This is a tragic example of maladaptive evolution.
     Armadillos, we all know, protect themselves by rolling up into a ball. Often the way they do this is to give a little leap and roll up while they’re in the air.
     This leap, however, turns out to be the height of an average car bumper.
     This explains the highways of Texas.
     All of this is true.
     Finally, we need to talk about armadillos’ teeth.
     They have no enamel.
     Armadillos have soft teeth.
     Whether they evolved this way so they could French kiss Florida Republicans, throwing a swing state to the Democrats, I would not hazard to say.
     So bad as things are for us, it’s probably worse for the armadillos.
     Not only have they spent millions of years evolving into a creature whose best defense involves getting run over on the highway, or hoping that a ricochet off their head can hold a human at bay, and hoping – please, Lord, anything but that – that a Southern Republican will not gently remove them from their forested habitat and give them a big wet kiss, but all the while they’re doing this, every armadillo has got a terrible toothache.

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