Aztecs called them āyōtōchtli, meaning “turtle-rabbit,” which doesn’t sound threatening together or apart, but names – and appearances – can be deceiving. Those cute little ears and their diminutive size suggest that armadillos have a friendly, unthreatening side, but do not be misled: Bring irrational, out-of-proportion aggression their way and you might find yourself on the receiving end, as an unidentified man in Texas learned last week.

The man, from Marietta south of Texarkana, was awake at 3 a.m. Thursday morning and looked out to see one of the critters on his property.

“His wife was in the house,” said Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe “He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo.”


At least one of the three bullets hit the animal’s leathery armor, ricocheted, and hit the man in the jaw. The injury was serious enough that he was life-flighted to a hospital.

Are we in the midst of an armadillo-ricochet epidemic? Someone tell CNN and we’ll see if we can turn this into a thing. Last April, also in the South, a man shot his mother in law by firing a handgun at a turtle-rabbit. A report from Georgia’s WALB News said the bullet “ricocheted off of it, hit a fence, went through the back door of his mother-in-law’s mobile home, through a recliner she was sitting in, and into her back.” She was not seriously hurt. The armadillo, sadly, was killed.

Investigator Bill Smith with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office had perhaps the wisest words for avoiding more moments of regret. “I really think if they’re going to shoot at varmints and whatnot, maybe use a shotgun…with a spread pattern with a lot less range.”


Photo by Rich Anderson

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Steve Casimiro is the editor of Adventure Journal. Follow him on Instagram at @stevecasimiro.