Armadillo Diets Among Seasons and Between Habitats on Cumberland Island, Georgia

In the 1970s, the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) invaded Cumberland Island, Georgia, which includes a federally designated wilderness area where native flora and fauna are protected by the National Park Service. Because of concerns about the potential ecological effects of this exotic mammal on the island's protected ecosystems, we collected 171 armadillos to determine their diets by stomach content analysis. We measured relative amounts of each food on a seasonal basis for a sub-sample of armadillos from oak-palmetto (N=44) versus oak-pine (N=43) habitats. Food habits of these armadillos were similar to those reported for armadillos from other temperate environments. They primarily ate invertebrates, but 60 (35%) and 62 (36%) armadillos also ate fruits and vertebrates, respectively, during certain seasons. When combined across seasons and habitats, 8 orders of invertebrates represented 85% of the dry weight of foods consumed. Consumption of Diplopoda (millipedes) and Arachnida (spiders and scorpions) varied among seasons and between habitats. Consumption of Chilopoda (centipedes), Diptera (flies), and Orthoptera (crickets, roaches, and grasshoppers) varied among seasons but not between habitats. Consumption of Hymenoptera (ants and wasps), Coleoptera (beetles), Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), and fruits was inconsistent (i.e., a season x habitat interaction) and varied depending on habitat and season. Our results provide baseline food habits data that can be used in future ecological assessments involving armadillos on this protected Atlantic coastal barrier island.

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