A former employee at the nearby Cradle of Forestry, Skillman was comfortably familiar with the outdoor environs of his former stomping grounds. But what he saw on the side of the road that late Sunday morning on Jan. 19 made this high school science teacher hit the brakes.
“I passed him, then stopped and backed up to get a closer look. I’ve seen them before in the coastal plains, but I had never seen one here before,” Skillman said of the armadillo scavenging on the side of the road, about two miles past the Forest Service fish hatchery in Transylvania County.
Skillman got out of his car, camera in hand, and walked to about two feet away from the animal, which seemed unconcerned it had become a roadside attraction.
“It wasn’t startled at all by my presence. It was searching through the leaf litter for food. It looked like the size of an overgrown football with a head and tail. I was very surprised to see it in our mountains,” he said.
And for good reason. Armadillos are not common in North Carolina, but a spike in the number of armadillo sightings indicates they are migrating into the region.
— By Melanie McConnell