Have they learned to cross the road?


KOUNTZE, Texas — Question: Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: To show the armadillo that it could be done.
That old joke was apparently prompted by the ubiquity of armored armadillo carcasses along Texas highways. I’ve seen dozens of the critters dead along the road, their little clawed feet up in the air, during more than two decades of driving in Texas.
Dead armadilloBut during this transcontinental bicycle ride — the last thousand miles in Texas — I’ve seen only one hapless armadillo, a couple of days ago in the East Texas Piney Woods. And we’ve seen plenty of road kill up close and personal — deer, javelina, skunks, raccoons, nutria, a rattlesnake and a wild boar. But only one armadillo. Go figure.
Maybe, after 55 million years of shuffling around on this planet looking for grub worms, the armadillo — at least in Texas — has figured out how to safely cross a road.
wineHoldr-Armadillo2The range of the armadillo, which in Spanish means “little armored one,” has been steadily expanding. The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) has spread as far east as South Carolina and Florida. With a lack of natural predators, they’ve proliferated over the last century and have been found as far north as Nebraska, Illinois and Indiana.
I’ll be on the lookout for dead armadillos as we ride through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on the way to Florida. Maybe they have mastered the art of crossing a road.

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Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Journeys, Texana

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