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Small Mammal, Big History

Small Mammal, Big History

May 06, 2019

Here in the Lone Star State, we love our armadillos. There are around 20 species of armadillo in Central and South America, but it is the nine-banded armadillo that makes its home in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, and other states in the U.S. Throughout history, we’ve kept them as pets, barbecued them, tattooed images of them on our bodies, officially declared them as Texas’ small mammal in 1995, and in the past, even made their shells into purses, baskets, and other household items.

In nearby Comfort, Texas, a young German immigrant named Charles Apelt began Apelt Armadillo Farm and discovered that armadillo shells were almost indestructible. Apelt had previous experience making factory-produced baskets and began an armadillo basket factory in 1898. Around 40,000 baskets were sold and shipped all over the globe during the six years the factory operated, along with additional armadillo-based products such as lamps, smoking stands, and womens' handbags. Although the factory is no longer open, guests can visit the nearby Armadillo Haus Museum and General Store to see artifacts from the farm’s restoration.

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