What Animals Are Digging Up My Back Yard?

For most homeowners, the back yard is a place for the adults to relax, the kids to play, the pets to romp and the flowers and lawn to thrive. For wildlife, however, a back yard is both hunting ground and a place to stash food. The size and location of holes animals dig help the yard invaders. Likely culprits range from furry rodents weighing less than 1 pound to armor-plated armadillos.

Holes

Voles

Tiny teeth marks at the base of a tree or woody shrub accompanied by nearby grass- or vegetation-hidden runways with several 1 1/2- to 2-inch-diameter holes leading to shallow, underground burrows belong to grayish- to blackish-brown voles. Voles dig day and night.

Squirrels

Squirrels are daytime diggers. In late summer and fall, they riddle yards with holes just deep enough to cache nuts or a few seeds. They also invade garden beds, digging deep enough to pull up and eat newly planted flower bulbs.

Raccoons, Skunks and Armadillos

Nocturnal hunters, raccoons, skunks and armadillos use their pointed noses and sharp claws to dig for insects, spiders. worms and grubs.

Skunks and raccoons:

  • make clusters of shallow, conical holes, usually measuring 2 to 4 inches wide.
  • often leave claw marks around the holes.
  • peel back newly laid sod as if it were an adhesive bandage to uncover worms and grubs.

Armadillo holes are usually 1 to 3 inches deep and up to 5 inches wide, but the surrounding area of disturbed soil or mulch may spread 3 feet.

Mounds

in the yard are the work of moles, pocket gophers and/or woodchucks, also known as groundhogs.

Mole mounds:

  • are cone-shaped and measure 8 to 24 inches wide and 2 to 8 inches high.
  • lead to shallow, underground tunnels that cause ridges in lawns or mulch.
  • often appear along walkways or garden edgings where the soil is loose and simple to dig.
  • are plugged at their centers with clods of soil, but the plugs may be hard to see.

Pocket gopher mounds:

  • usually appear in the loose, moist soil of irrigated lawns and flower and vegetable gardens.
  • have visible plugs, usually in the center of their inward-curving sides.
  • Hide the entrances to burrows lying 6 to 12 inches underground.

Woodchuck mounds:

Burrows Without Mounds

Chipmunks, ground squirrels, shrews and rats dig burrows without leaving mounds that give away their small entrances.