Authorities are asking people in Florida to refrain from shooting and eating armadillos, and to resist the urge to handle them or keep them for pets, because they are responsible for a leprosy outbreak in the state.
Armadillos are believed to be the only animal able to carry leprosy – which some scientists believe they contracted from humans hundreds of years ago – and are common across Florida. "We catch more armadillos than we do any other species," wildlife trapper Kyle Waltz told Action News Jacksonville. "If they're trying to get out of a cage they can spit on you." Residents have raised concerns that the critters may bite domestic pets, resulting in bacterial infections akin to those transmitted by rodent bites.