Larry McElroy, 54, was about 100 yards away when he took deliberate aim at the armadillo in the US state of Georgia, where the insect-eating creatures are regarded as pests because of the damage they cause to flower beds when they dig around for food.

He successfully eradicated the poor armadillo – and almost got two for the price of one when the 9mm bullet deflected off the armoured animal into a fence, and then whizzed though the door of Carol Johnson’s mobile home and through her recliner before lodging in her back as she sat there.

Happily, she came off better than the deceased armadillo, and was not seriously injured. “She was walking around on her own power and talking,” said Bill Smith, investigator for Lee County Sheriff’s Office, talking to WALB. “It didn’t appear to be too severe.”

The old lady was taken to hospital for treatment, but no charges have been filed in the case. “Just the circumstances, just all the way around, the whole situation was unusual,” said a bemused Smith.