Poster presentation 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Above-ground nests provide alternative shelter for nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcintus). (#735)

Colleen M. McDonough 1 , Namrata Bhandari 1 , Corey D. Anderson 1 , J. Mitchell Lockhart 1
  1. Valdosta State University, Valdosta State Unversity, Valdosta, Georgia, United States of America

Nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) are known to modify habitats by constructing burrows throughout their distribution. In addition, this species has been reported to build above-ground nests in habitats with poorly drained soils when burrows are flooded during heavy rains. Published reports of these nests have been limited to palmetto and palm habitats in south Florida and Belize. During a survey of burrows in south Georgia, we found 29 above-ground nests in a 13 ha pine forest with well-drained soils. 100% of the nests were surrounded by thick tangles of thorny vines of Blackberry (genus Rubus) and/or Smilax (genus Smilax), and 69% had small oaks, large pines or fallen logs < 0.5 m away. Construction consisted of an entrance tunnel leading to a circular dugout depression (averaging 28 cm in diameter and 17 cm deep) that was lined and covered with pine needles. The total mound of needles had average dimensions (72 cm by 48 cm by 37 cm high), similar to those previously found in south Florida. Walls of the mound were about 10 cm thick and so dense that water did not penetrate all the way through. Some nests even survived a controlled burn. Compass directions of nest entrances were randomly distributed. Preliminary distribution analysis suggests that the nests are not randomly distributed in space but may be aggregated in areas where heavy brush occurred. Preliminary temperature data suggests the nests provide a buffer from heat and may provide alternative shelter from burrow conditions.