What Animal Is Digging in My Garden?

striped skunk

Are you having a problem with animals digging in your garden?

It’s an ongoing problem that all gardeners have to deal with. To a wild animal, your garden could be like a supermarket is to us; rows of food lined up to enjoy and take home.

I doubt you planted a garden so that you could feed all the neighborhood critters. You would prefer they stop pulling veggies off the vine right before they are perfectly ripe.

How to identify who is digging holes in garden

If you want to stop those critters from digging in your garden, it helps to know who the guilty animals are so you can take the right steps to prevent it.

Is it kids or pets?

Most of the time you’ll know the answer to this already, especially if you don’t have any kids or pets. You do want to eliminate suspects though so it’s good to make sure. Young kids love to dig in the dirt and your kid could have done it without you noticing. A stray dog could also be responsible for digging holes too.

Is it happening at night?

skunk hole in yardIf the holes keep occurring at night, then you know it’s a nocturnal animal. If it’s only happening at night, that will eliminate birds and squirrels as suspects. In that case, it’s more likely to be a raccoon or skunk.

Raccoons and skunks are often the most likely suspects because they love to eat insects in the ground just below the surface, particularly grubs, which could be in your garden or lawn turf.

Animals that dig holes in gardens

We’ll review some of the animals that may dig holes in your garden. Most of the time though, it will end up being a raccoon or a skunk.

Birds

Some birds will dig holes in your garden but they generally won’t be too noticeable. Blue Jays and crows will both dig holes in order to hide nuts for the winter. Because they are stashing food for cold months, they will cover up the hole. In winter you may notice them trying to dig up items they’ve buried. Their memory is not as good as squirrels so they may dig a few more holes.

Because they are stashing food for cold months, they will cover up the hole. In winter you may notice them trying to dig up items they’ve buried. Their memory is not as good as squirrels so they may dig a few more holes.

During the spring, summer and fall though, any noticeable damage from birds digging in your garden should be minor.

Ground Squirrels (Chipmunks), Gophers, and Rabbits

All three of these animals will dig holes as entrances to their dens.  Rabbits will usually dig a single entrance/exit hole. Ground squirrels and gophers will dig separate entrance and exit holes to their homes.

The roots and vegetables found on the surface will be eaten by these animals.

If the hole goes is deep enough that you cannot see the end, then you probably have a ground squirrel or gopher.

Gopher holes will have noticeable piles of dirt surrounding the hole. Rabbits and ground squirrels will have slightly neater holes.

Raccoons and Skunks

Raccoons and skunks are both active after dark and will dig holes in your garden while searching for bugs and food.

When you see digging and holes which appear scattered about and the hole is more irregularly shaped, then you likely have raccoons or skunks digging in your garden.

If have a lot of earthworms, grubs or bugs in your garden, then you could very well be attracting skunks.

Related: How to keep raccoons away from your home

Squirrels (Tree Squirrels)

As you are aware, squirrels will dig holes so they can stash food for winter months. But just like birds, unless it is the winter, they are usually going to conceal the hole they dig in your garden or yard.

Related: How to get rid of squirrels

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