What Could Be Digging a Hole in My Flowerbed at Night?

After you've coiled the hose, put away the tools and washed off the dirt from an afternoon of gardening, you may think your lovingly tended flowerbed is ready for a peaceful night's slumber. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

An after-dark flowerbed is a hub of activity. A host of nocturnal creatures visit to hunt, feed, mark their territories or otherwise disturb the surroundings. To pinpoint the intruders, examine the holes and tracks they leave behind.

Wildlife

Deer Mice

Deer mice, or white-footed mice, dig in a flowerbed for stray seeds or newly planted bulbs. If the bed is near its nesting site, a mouse might also dig holes to store food for winter.

Deer mice holes are less than 1 inch wide and their tracks less than 1/2 inch long.

Voles

Voles often visit flowerbeds at night; the tiny rodents snack on leaves and steal or cache seeds, bulbs and tubers. Dime-size holes near the bases of plants are classic vole calling cards, though vole burrow holes may be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide.

Voles have broad, five-toed front paws and narrow, four-toed rear ones. Their tracks </ahref="http:>are smaller than a penny.

Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and skunks are attracted to flowerbeds for the delicacies hidden beneath their mulch. The animals sniff for white grubs, milllipedes and sowbugs with their pointed noses, leaving shallow, cone-shaped holes 3 to 4 inches wide. They also claw the mulch around the holes to reach their prey.

Raccoon tracks look like tiny handprints, and skunk tracks could pass for for those of </ahref="http:>baby bears.

Armadillos

Armadillos visit flowerbeds at night to search for earthworms, spiders and insects. The holes they dig usually measure 1 to 3 inches deep and from 3 to 5 inches wide. They move in irregular patterns, often leaving several feet of disturbed mulch or soil in their wake.

Armadillo's distinctive tracks might fool you into blaming large birds for the damage.

Domesticated Animals

Dogs

Many dogs are attracted to the chocolate aroma of cocoa bean shell mulch. They may leave shallow indentations where they've sniffed at it or scooped some up for a taste.

Cats

Cats on the prowl at night often head for the nearest well-cultivated flowerbed to dig holes in the soft earth, relieve themselves and scratch soil over their deposits.