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How to Tell Which Animal Is Digging Holes in Your Yard

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Photo: Egor Valeev (Shutterstock)

Let’s say you walk outside one morning only to find that it appears as though someone—or something—has been digging holes, searching for buried treasure (albeit a relatively small one) in your yard. You’d probably want to get to the bottom of it.

Why? If genuine curiosity isn’t reason enough, but you would like to encourage the critter(s) to move on, it would be helpful to know which one(s) is destroying your property. Here are some of the animals that may be responsible for your new landscaping, and how to identify their handiwork.

Moles

  • Dig holes shaped like volcanoes
  • Also dig raised tunnels with entrances the size of a quarter
  • Your soil likely contains earthworms and grubs (i.e. a mole buffet)

Voles

  • Create narrow paths called “runways” throughout yards (typically 1″-2″ wide and in the top 2″-3″ inches of soil)
  • Sometimes also dig shallow underground tunnels
  • Favorite nesting locations include: Near gardens, usually beneath shrubs, ground-cover plants, or thick mulch, or in woodpiles

Chipmunks

  • Leave shallow holes from digging for food
  • Create extensive systems of tunnels when they burrow, with entrances the size of a 50-cent coin and surrounded by dirt
  • Favorite burrow locations include: Under sidewalks, next to houses and sheds, and along root systems of trees

Skunks

  • When digging for food, they create conical holes about 3″ deep, “as if a pencil were stuck in the earth and then swirled around,according to Adam Turpen of the Ohio Wildlife Center
  • Also dig burrows, roughly 8″ wide and pretty deep
  • Entrances to burrows are about the size of a grapefruit, and usually have pebbles build up around the front
  • Favorite digging locations include: Under decks, sheds and porches
  • The distinctive skunk smell is also a sign they’re the ones digging, but the absence of that odor doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear: It typically takes skunks’ stink glands 10 to 14 days to refill, so you might catch them digging between sprays

Raccoons

  • Dig holes similar to skunk holes, but a little bigger
  • If you find hair on a branch near a hole, it could be a clue that it was a raccoon
  • Will use its claws and tiny hands to tear up grass and flip pieces of sod

Groundhogs

Gophers


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