Wildlife guide and renowned photographer Brad Josephs can usually be spotted trekking among bears in Alaska's Katmai National Park, but on a recent trip beyond his stomping grounds he had an equally memorable encounter with a much smaller mammal in the Ozark Mountains: a curious armadillo. 


More closely related to sloths and anteaters than anything else, Armadillos are known to be elusive, so Josephs was completely surprised by the creature's interest. "It was a total fluke," he says. "I was so excited to get such a close-up look. They are such unique animals!"

Armadillos have expanded their range in the last 20 years, so encounters like this one are becoming more frequent – and that's something locals have mixed feelings about.

"They are considered a nuisance, but I think they are survivors and should be appreciated. They dig holes in lawns in their search for insects, but that actually aerates the soil," says Josephs

As for why this little guy decided to come in for a sniff – the most likely explanation is that Josephs had stepped in something during his hike that the animal found worthy of inspection. 

"They sometimes seem to disregard threats and approach people," he adds. "We link that to lack of intelligence, but I think it shows that they don't need to worry about threats because they know they are so well protected with armoured scales."

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Top header image: Rich Anderson/Flickr