Site icon Joanna Campbell Slan

Me and My Armadillo–When the Creative Urge Turns to Roadkill

About a month ago, I noticed a dead armadillo by the side of the road. He was a big guy, flat on his back, his legs punctuating the sky.

I wanted that armadillo. I’d seen a stuffed armadillo holding a beer bottle on display in a local shop, but it wasn’t for sale. I can’t explain it, but that silly piece of taxidermy caught my imagination. I thought it was “way cool.”

Each time I drove past that dead armadillo on the road, I thought, “Gee, what a waste.” Finally, about four days after I first spotted the roadkill, I called a local taxidermist.

“How dead is dead?” I asked.

He explained that four hours dead is about the limit for his work purposes.

“Okay, this armadillo is way past that. But his shell would still be good, wouldn’t it? What could I do with the shell?”

The guy realized I wasn’t shining him on. I was serious.

“Hmmm. You could tear off the flesh and get some 20 Mule Team Borax and soak the shell in it. That would kill the smell. After that, get some epoxy. Use it to glue the shell together or into any position you want,” he said. “And good luck.” With a chuckle, he hung up.

Okay, but first I had to “rescue” the armadillo. I drove to the site, pulled on latex gloves, and shooed away the turkey buzzards. They were reluctant to leave. I picked up the ‘dillo by the tail. He was a heavy dude, about fifteen pounds. I stuffed him into a black garbage bag. The cars driving by slowed to watch. I waved.

With my raw material in the trunk, I stopped at the local ACE Hardware store. I bought an alumninum turkey basting pan and the 20 Mule Team Borax. At home, I used an old pair of kitchen shears to cut off the rascal’s head (did you know armadilloes have whiskers under their chins and ears like pigs’?), legs and tail. I scrapped all the flesh from his shell that I could, using an oyster shell as my tool. I sprinkled the Borax over the shell. And I waited.

A week ago, I judged my experiment “done.” Only one problem: I have no idea what to do with my dead ‘dillo. I wrapped him around a big empty bottle of wine. Now I can’t get the empty bottle out. I think I’ll have to soak him again. And then what?

Any ideas?

By the way, I have NO idea why Blogger insists on making this photo vertical. Sigh. And his shell looks white because there’s this sort of scale-like covering on an armadillo’s body. It comes off when it’s soaked in water. I think I’ll have to paint the shell to get it brown again.
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