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What animal is digging up my lawn?

Updated February 21, 2017

When animals damage your lawn by digging, tunnelling or creating mounds, identifying the animal is the first key step in correcting the problem. This is sometimes easier said than done however. By looking at the type of digging and searching for additional clues, you can narrow your search down to the likely culprit.

Nocturnal Digging Animals

Skunks, raccoons, badgers and even armadillos dig up lawns during the night. Skunks dig small holes as they look for insects to eat. They move from one area to the next each night, a methodical approach not seen in other animals. Raccoons enjoy eating grubs and worms. Consider raccoons as your pests if you know you have problems with grubs in your lawn. Shredded grass or patches of rolled grass are signs of raccoon activity. Badgers eat pocket gophers, so if you have pocket gophers in the yard, badgers are your likely culprit, according to the University of Nebraska. Armadillos, found in the southeastern United States, eat mainly insects, spiders and invertebrates. They dig holes up to 3 inches deep and five inches across in their search for food, sometimes digging up ornamental plants and flowers in the process.

Daytime Digging Animals

Most animals that dig up the lawn work in the evening hours, but some are active during the day instead. Examples include birds and squirrels. The damage done by these animals is shallow as a result of them storing or searching for food. Other animals that sometimes dig in the yard during the day include chipmunks and groundhogs.

Other Types of Damage

Animals may appear to be digging up your lawn when in fact they are only tunnelling through it. Examples include moles and pocket gophers. While moles create raised furrows as they work their way across the lawn, pocket gophers build dirt tubes above the surface of the ground. Homeowners generally discover these tubes in the early spring when snow melts, revealing the work of these pests. Other animals, including voles, woodchucks, shrews and Norway rats, create burrows varying in size from 1 to 12 inches in diameter.

Prevention and Control

Prevention and control techniques vary depending on the animal being targeted and on the area in which you live. Trapping works for some animals, but may not be legal in all areas. Fencing keeps many animal pests out, though others may tunnel under fencing or climb over it. Elimination of food sources also proves important in deterring certain animals from digging in your lawn. For example, raccoons searching for grubs will stop visiting if you eradicate the grubs in your yard. In some states, rural homeowners may be able to hunt the offending animals as well, according to Michigan State University Museum.

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About the Author

Kristin Urbauer has been freelance writing since 2009 when she began publishing work for various websites. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics including children, education, gardening, pets, mental health and alternative medicine. She attended the University of Nebraska where she majored in English.