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How to tell What animal Is digging in your back garden

Updated February 21, 2017

You can spend countless hours in your garden making sure the grass is free of weeds, diseases and other blights. But all of your hard work can get ruined if an animal begins digging holes there. Some animals are sneaky and will only dig when you are not around. This makes it tough to determine which animal is digging and how to go about trapping or killing it.

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  1. Look at the hole. If a mound of soil covers a hole you can't see, the intruder is likely to be a mole.

  2. Examine the dug-up area. If the animal has made tunnels that raise the soil but don't break through it, and you can't see the entrance of the hole, a mole is probably digging in your backyard.

  3. Inspect the hole. If you see a shallow burrow that is not next to a soil mound, it is likely caused by a squirrel, vole or shrew. If the hole is 5 cm (2 inches) wide, it is probably a squirrel. If it is less than 3.8 cm (1 1/2 inches), it is probably a vole or shrew. If the hole is 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) wide, it is likely a rat, and holes larger than 10 cm (4 inches) indicate the presence of a rabbit, a badger or a fox.

  4. Look at the hole with a flashlight to determine its depth. If the burrow is very deep and you see soil around the hole, the intruder is likely a badger. Badgers make holes larger than 30 cm (1 foot) across.

  5. Peer into the hole. If the hole is shallow, as if the animal was searching for insects to eat, it is likely made by a squirrel.

  6. Search around your lawn and garden to determine if the animal has dug up plants. If so, the animal is probably a squirrel or a rabbit. Rabbits usually work at night, while squirrels are active during the day.

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About the Author

Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.

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