SARALAND, Ala. (WKRG) — Auburn Students spending their summer in Mobile County need your help with a unique research project. Graduate Research Assistant Olivia Sciandra shows me the trap they use to capture armadillos. They’re either taken alive and euthanized in a box or found as roadkill. The students take tiny samples of the critter’s liver and spleen to see how common leprosy is in Mobile County armadillos.
“Prevalence in Alabama of leprosy and wild armadillos hasn’t been evaluated before. So it will help us evaluate what the prevalence is here and what the concern is again, from transmission,” said Graduate Research Assistant Oliva Sciandra. They’ve collected nearly a dozen armadillos so far but need help. They’re looking for homeowners willing to let them set traps on their property or give their hotline a call if they spot an armadillo road kill in Mobile County. Their number is 334-521-2777.
“I love working with armadillos. I think they’re really awesome creatures and it’s interesting studying the disease component. I’ve always been interested in disease and so I’m getting my master’s thesis in this,” said Sciandra. In addition to their studies, these student researchers also get a chance to really work in the field.
“I love the field component. I think every wildlife biologist really loves the field part aspect of research. The boring part is the analysis, I don’t know. Some people really love it, but I love being outside. Get my hands dirty,” said Auburn Senior Lauren Stevens. In addition to their leprosy study, they’ve had unique finds like an armadillo with an unusual asymmetrical armor pattern and get the chance to use an underground camera to look at armadillo burrows.