What Is Digging Holes In My Yard?

A black mole poking head through a burrow - keep moles away from your home with Johnson Pest Control in TN

It has happened to all of us. We go walking through the yard and step into a carved-out hole or tunnel in the ground that almost breaks our ankle. But knowing what animal that has created this newfound creation in our yard can be tough to diagnose. Cindy Decker, a columnist for The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio) shared some of her garden expertise to help identify what animal might be digging around the house.

What Is Digging Holes In My Yard?

The sizes, shapes and locations of animal holes all tell a tale.

Some excavations signify a search for food; others speak to homebuilding.

To learn how to identify the source of backyard digging, I turned to Adam Turpen, director of SCRAM! Wildlife Control, the arm of the Ohio Wildlife Center that offers humane wildlife solutions.


Moles can be obvious in the lawn, leaving serpentine raised tunnels through which they travel and feed.

Although the look isn’t pleasing, Turpen said, “These animals are aerating the lawn.”

The entrance to the tunnel is a quarter-sized hole.

If you have moles, you have tasty things in the soil. Moles eat earthworms and grubs.

Turpen and others recommend treating the lawn for grubs to help control moles.

The Purdue University Extension warns, though, that the method isn’t foolproof because other food sources remain.


When digging in the garden, chipmunks are looking for food, maybe some seeds or a flower bulb.

Those holes will be fairly shallow.

When they burrow, chipmunks can create extensive tunnel systems. The entrance hole, Turpen said, is about the size of a 50-cent piece — a clean hole without a lot of dirt around it.

Chipmunks like to burrow under sidewalks, next to houses and sheds, and along root systems of trees.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, chipmunks don’t generally damage property.


Skunks digging for food leave conical holes about 3 inches deep, as if a pencil were stuck in the earth and then swirled around, Turpen said.

Their burrows have entrances about the size of a grapefruit, he said.

“You’d generally see pebbles build up around the front.”

Skunks often dig under decks, sheds and porches.


Raccoons dig holes similar to those of skunks but perhaps slightly larger.

Hair caught on branches near a hole might help identify the creature using it.

When raccoons forage for food in a lawn, Turpen said, it will look as if someone has rolled back the sod.


Groundhog holes are larger and deeper than others — sometimes the size of a soccer ball, Turpen said — with

earth mounded at the entrance.

Other animals, such as red foxes, sometimes take over groundhog holes.

“They are the ones who generally do the work,” he said.

Burrows might — but don’t always — have multiple entrances and exits.

Cindy Decker, At Home editor, writes about native gardening and living with wildlife.

Diseased Raccoons Found in Roane County

Local news was reporting that some raccoons have been found in Roane County that could have a possibility of rabies. Testing is still being determined.

Raccoons East Tennessee | Johnson Pest ControlWhile the wilderness is steps away from the neighborhoods in Rockwood, police say it’s still an odd case. Diseased raccoons have been discovered, and they could have rabies.

“There’s not an epidemic, however you need to be cautious of any wild animals — particularly raccoons,” said Rockwood Police Chief Danny Wright.

They discovered three raccoons that were foaming at the mouth in the last few weeks. Chief Wright said it’s the first time they’ve discovered potentially rabid animals in the wild.

Rabies could transfer from animals to humans — affecting the nervous system. Not treated, rabies could be fatal.

“Talked to TWRA. There is a distemper going around. So they believe it may be distemper instead of rabies,” the chief added.

Residents have been notified of the potential risk. The city has also been doing more to keep the animals at bay. Garbage men have been on double-time, watching for any trash that could attract raccoons. Police have also been keeping an eye out too.

“We’re not out here looking on ‘raccoon patrol,'” said Wright. “What we’re doing is doing our normal duties and responding to calls for assistance, and that’s why we asked for assistance from the public.”

So far, there have been no reported rabies or distemper cases in Roane County.

Distemper is usually a canine disease and has some similar signs of rabies, but it is not commonly found in the wild. But where we live and the common intersections of family/pet and wildlife it’s possible that is the case.

In the mean time, be vigilant for wildlife that might pose a threat to your neighborhood and family. Call your local wildlife services or a wildlife removal specialist if you have concerns.