Welcome to Hannibal, armadillos (please do not destroy us).

That’s right. After decades of slowly trudging north into climates originally deemed too cold, armadillos have successfully made it to America's Hometown. An unseasonably warm Midwestern winter allowed the shelled pioneers to (first) not die and (second) get a head start on their summer expeditions up north.

And like it or not, here they are.

So what does this mean? According to Mike Flaspohler, Wildlife Management Biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (who has received six armadillo sighting reports in the Hannibal area as of this writing), the biggest nuisance associated with our new residents is their habits of digging.

“They dig for insects and grubs and can get into a lot of trouble when they start digging in gardens and flower beds, not to mention crop fields,” Flaspohler says.

Well that’s not SO bad, I guess.

“They are also reported to be possible carriers of leprosy.”

Oh. Okay, avoid armadillos then.

Though the first sightings of armadillos in Missouri occurred in the 1940s, they were few and far between—-sometimes serving as illegal pets or unwanted stowaways on trucks. It wasn’t until the 1980s that armadillo sightings in southern Missouri became an annual occurrence.

“So in 35 or so years they have managed to move across most of Missouri,” Flaspohler says. “Who knows where they will actually end up in the years ahead?”