Nine-banded armadillos are on a northward march. Before 1850, the scaly (and, tbh, adorable) mammal’s historic range was limited to Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America. However, in the 1850’s these little guys crossed the Rio Grande river into the U.S., probably aided by the human construction of bridges and roads.
From there, climate change has helped them continue north and east at a rate of about 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) per year. In 1994, scientists estimated their range covered parts of nine southeastern U.S. states. But as of 2021, the little roly-poly bois are in at least 15 (disclaimer: they cannot actually fully roll into balls, like some other armadillo species).
As temperatures warm, they’re projected to move even farther north, possibly even reaching New York and other major East Coast cities. As cute as (I personally think) they are, not everyone is thrilled with their expansion. Armadillos are generalists when it come to food. They’ll eat just about anything, including the eggs of endangered species like northern bobwhite quails or sensitive and declining salamanders. They’re also vectors for all sorts of different diseases (e.g., leprosy), and biologists worry about the effect those diseases could have on other wildlife.