Sony F-717 digital
On-camera flash
48.5mm at f2.4
1/80 second at ISO 100
Almost missed her


nine-banded armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus

While my brother was visiting one spring, I was determined to find one of these guys, since they don't appear in too many areas of the country, and most especially not where he lives. So we drove out to a prime location for them one evening to look around, but didn't spot any.

On leaving, however, I heard a distinct rustle in the undergrowth through the open window of the car and urged my brother to pull over. The lighting was terrible, but I had the Sony digital with me, and it has an infrared function. Switching to that, I managed to find my photo subject above and snap the photo, using the flash in normal mode once I had locked on. Notice the 'redeye' glow through the tiny pupil.

The nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) isn't native to Florida, and didn't migrate here like other examples of the species in Texas and neighboring states. Instead, it was introduced in the early 1900s; accounts claim this happened when a truck transporting them broke down and they were released, and/or when a pair escaped from a zoo in Cocoa. Either way, they seem to have taken well to the state.

Armadillos have wretched eyesight and rely on hearing and smell to warn them of danger, which has permitted me some very close approaches – in one case where a foraging adult wandered directly up to me in broad daylight. Couldn't resist reaching down and tickling its back, which produced a momentary curious pause before it bolted for cover. Too amusing.