Eat an armadillo? Sure—if you live in Brazil, Tennessee, or other parts of the world where the armored creature is just another source of protein. Armadillo is an uncommon, but not unheard of part of many people’s diet. It is said to taste similar to chicken. Hunters capture wild armadillos, and some people also raise the animals in captivity like pigs, fattening them up on household scraps. But there’s a compelling case for leaving the strange creature alone.
Researchers have found a link between armadillos and a disease that has mostly disappeared in many parts of the world: leprosy. In a study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers found that 62 percent of the nine-banded armadillos sampled in Brazil’s western state of Pará showed signs of exposure to the bacterium that causes leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease. They also found that people who eat nine-banded armadillo meat had higher concentrations of leprosy antibodies in their blood. (The team offered free treatment to those found to have the disease.)