This blog was updated from one of my columns that was originally published in the Daily Corinthian on August 24, 2005.
Attack of the Killer Armadillos
A few years ago, I had a too-close encounter with an armadillo. I might have overreacted a bit but, considering some past stories I had heard about these creatures, and their potential for viciousness, it is no wonder that I reacted the way that I did.
Let me begin with some background. My ex-husband, Sam, worked with a man named Frank. In the past, Frank had some unfortunate encounters with animals. I can think of two in particular from stories Sam related to me in the past – an armadillo and a skunk. (These were two separate encounters.)
From what I was told, Frank had an armadillo in his yard and thought he could fight the thing off with a garden hoe. However, he was surprised at how aggressive, and just plain mean, an armadillo could get. The thing charged and attacked him. It jumped up on him and bit and clawed. Frank, who was not a big guy, was yelling and hollering for his wife to help him. Apparently, she was (according to legend) on the porch watching the whole shebang and too weak from laughter to do anything.
Another armadillo tale I heard was when one of my co-workers told me about how an armadillo was digging under their porch and her husband thought he’d discourage and run it off by nudging the thing with a baseball bat. Apparently, this only angered the creature and it attacked and the husband ended up battling the beast to the death.
So, with stories like these in mind, I was justifiably afraid of the creepy, prehistoric-looking creatures. One Sunday night several years ago, I had finished a visit with my mother. I had spent the day and had done some laundry at her house. With my laundry basket in my arms, I had told Mom good-night and I was headed out the door around 9:30 p.m. I stepped off my mother’s front porch and stepped right out of one of my flip-flops.
I groaned my frustration as I felt around with my foot for the missing shoe. I froze in mid-search as I suddenly found myself staring at an armadillo sitting on Mom’s sidewalk, only five feet away from me. (He was just sitting there watching me.)
I made a choked, squeaking sound that passed for a panicked scream and I tried to turn my head to call for Mom while not taking my eyes from the creature that was staring me down.
Mom’s dog, Duke, (a.k.a. “Ugly Dog.” Don’t ever call him that in Mom’s presence, though. She tends to get testy about that.) began to silently run the armadillo. The beast turned to its left and ran (actually it was a waddle that passes for a run in the armadillo world) away from the dog. Duke changed directions and chased it another way. I became terrified that Duke would run the armadillo right toward me.
I had visions of a Frank-like encounter where the creature would bare its claws and hurl itself at me in a crazed attack. I was without a baseball bat or other weapon would have had nothing to defend myself with except for my fluffy delicates.
I imagined the thing would make a weird, hissing/growling sound. I don’t actually know as I’ve never heard what sound an armadillo makes when it is mad or in any other state of mind. I am happy with being unaware of these things.
When the armadillo had been chased a decent distance from me, I found my flip-flop and ran up the porch steps and yelled for my mother to come. “Mom, you’ve got an armadillo out here! Duke is chasing it!”
Mom rushed to the porch. Duke had begun to bark excitedly and the armadillo increased the speed of its waddle-run and Ugly Dog chased it outside the realm of the porch light and into the woods.
“Get him, Duke! Good boy!” Mom yelled from the porch.
I was already traumatized but wanted to deposit the heavy basket of laundry I was carrying into my car. I hurried across the yard toward my vehicle, casting frightened (freaked-out) glances behind me. I was sure I would see a red-eyed, insane armadillo chasing me at a full speed waddle-run to launch an attack any second.
I finally reached my car when I heard my mother yell, “Look out, Lee Ann! He’s coming up behind you!”
I turned with a long, blood-curdling scream that was heard in three counties. I jumped about five feet off the ground in a move of terror that rivaled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But, I still managed a freakishly competent grip on my laundry basket. I did not drop one thing.
I heard my mother begin a laughing fit that bordered on hysterical. “I’m s-s-s-s-sorry, Honey,” she gasped in between barks of laughter. “I meant Duke was coming up behind you! Not the armadillo!”
Duke is mostly black. It was nighttime. She was worried Ugly Dog would scare me.
My mother finally had to go into the house to sit down. She was laughing so hard she was afraid she would lose control of her bodily functions. I could hear her laughing inside the house all the way from my car in the front yard.
I found the humor later after I administered CPR on myself. There’s nothing like a little terror to get one’s heart started.
In the future I think I want a Native American name – perhaps “Running With Wildlife.” Yes, I think that fits. And, I would rather be running with wildlife that running from it.
(L.A. Story is a fiction writer and poet. She is a resident of Glen where mad armadillos lurk in the shadows for the unsuspecting bearers of laundry. Her blog appears on Wednesdays.)