Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes (In The Ground, My Yard, The Lawn…)

Tips For Preventing Ground Squirrel Holes

“Why do squirrels dig holes in my yard?”

Every homeowner and homeowner-to-be knows of the age-old saying: the home is where the heart is. It’s the foundation for your lasting memories, a place where your stories begin and unfold. So it’s no secret that all homeowners will do whatever it takes to keep their properties in tip-top shape the whole year round, and many homeowners pride in ownership is reflected in their yards and lawns. After creating and maintaining a beautiful lawn, damage from ground squirrel holes can be super frustrating and difficult to manage.

What Is A Ground Squirrel?

A ground squirrel is a particular member of the squirrel family that lives primarily on the ground, rather than in trees. There are more than 2 dozen species of ground squirrels in the US, including flying squirrels, tree squirrels, marmots and other rodents.

Ground squirrels, generally either considered in our current culture to be adorable live entertainment or a pestilence to be removed, have played an important role in North American history, primarily as food. In addition, they were used for hunting as a pastime, and their fur was used for clothing, toys, etc.

Ground squirrels are active in the daytime. Some ground squirrels will hibernate in the winter; they stash their food, plug up the holes leading to their burrows, and spend the winter snug under ground.

So,Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes?

Aside from their never-ending quest for food, squirrels dig holes to store their own food supplies. Talk about having an unknown house guest! Certain species of ground squirrels dig tunnels underneath the soil to be used as shelter during the winter. Another problem that might crop up is that squirrels often forget where exactly they stash their goods, which may result in more holes marring your space.

How Do You Know If Those Are Squirrel Holes?

First things first! There are a number of rodents that dig holes, including mice, moles, groundhogs, chipmunks…the list goes on! The best way to identify a ground squirrel hole is to check for the size. Squirrel holes will be around 2-4 inches in diameter, and are usually very shallow and cleanly done, with no surrounding soil littering the edges. (These kinds of holes are specific to squirrels and help to distinguish them from other rodents or pests.)  Ground squirrels can and will burrow under any number of objects that are in their way, such as rocks, fencing, lumber, etc.  These furry fiends are also only active during the day, so if you notice the damage being done at night, you can rule them out!

ground squirrel

What Damage Do Squirrels Do?

These tiny holes may appear to be a surface issue, but they can actually do a lot more harm than you think. Aside from being a sight for sore eyes, holes like this can damage the structural foundations you might have built on your yard, such as a patio or deck, because squirrels like to gnaw on wood. Those that dig tunnels often cut through the roots of flowers and vegetables, a hardship faced by those with green thumbs. In addition, these mammals also chew through cables responsible for lighting and other electrical functions, causing them to short circuit.

How To Stop Squirrels From Digging

As irritating and bothersome as this is, try to remember that these animals are just doing what comes naturally to them. Once you know why squirrels do dig holes, There are all sorts of humane methods to prevent squirrel holes that will allow you to peacefully coexist with your fluffy friends in a manner that will spare both them and your backyard.

1. Get an outside dog

If your house has the space for one more family member, consider adopting or getting a dog that will be free to roam around and scare off unwanted guests. (Keep in mind that there are a number of squirrel dogs that would love the job!) Not enough to hurt the squirrels, but one that won’t be uninterested or even afraid of them. A bigger animal constantly lurking around your backyard will surely have the squirrels thinking twice about invading your area!

2. Keep your trash bins sealed

Squirrels are always on the hunt for more food sources, and an overflowing rubbish bin left out in the open is their idea of a buffet! Even if they don’t find something worthwhile, they’ll scavenge around in them long enough to leave a big mess for you to clean up after. To prevent this, make sure you always seal your trash cans shut before you bring them outside.

3. Don’t feed them

Squirrels learn fast, and if you fall into the trap of feeding them just once, you can guarantee they’ll keep coming back for more. We know it might be hard to resist those earnest beady eyes and tiny paws, but as long as they’ve had a taste of it, they’ll keep returning even if you deny them. These guys are smart and adapt to their environment, so it’s best not to give them any reason for an extended visit to your home.

4. Install mesh wire over the soil

We recommend this for those of you with flower beds! The wire needs to be wide enough to accommodate plant growth, but still narrow enough to present difficulty for squirrels to move around and burrow. However, it isn’t advisable to set a mesh gate over the entire lawn, especially if you have kids that enjoy playing outside.

5. Plant non-edible flowers

It seems as if we aren’t the only ones drawn towards these vibrant, sweet-smelling blooms. Squirrels love their flowers, so by planting blossoms such as daffodils that don’t appeal to their tastes, they may be discouraged from ever scampering into your backyard again. You can also invest in a rodent repellent to spray over your flowers. One accidental bite of this nasty substance will have those squirrels running for the hills! Just take care to read the label properly and ensure they’re really manufactured to ward off squirrels.

As annoying as you may think these rodents are, it’s important to remember that squirrels are not your enemies. Their hole digging actually have some positive effects, such as forgotten stores of fruit and seeds sprouting into plants and other trees. Armed with this simple and easy primer on seeking out and identifying ways to prevent them from doing a number to your yard, you’ll hopefully find a happy medium when it comes to living with these fuzzy fiends.

To the average person, these fluffy mammals don’t seem like much of a threat. But if you’re a homeowner searching for a solution that will prevent these little guys from digging holes in your backyard, keep reading to get all the information you’ll need so that your yard stays intact for the months to come. Those of you who are lucky enough to have gardens to tend to or backyards to run around in undoubtedly know that while the extra space to take a breather in is a luxury in itself, tending to your outdoor areas can be tough enough to be considered a full-time job!