What Animal Is Digging Holes In Your Yard At Night

Since I am a retired pest control technician a lot of property and homeowners contact me with questions. One complaint that pops up a lot is when the homeowners discover ugly holes made by unknown creatures in their yard that were not present the previous night, along with piles of dirt and torn-up turf that litter their property.

Lawns that have been dug up are a problem that homeowners usually have little time to fix.

It is an especially irritating situation for people that take pride in maintaining a well-trimmed and beautiful yard or garden, taking extra care to cultivate lush and bright green grass and pretty garden flowerbeds.

In addition, holes in the yard are actually a health hazard because they can easily trip people due to the uneven surface they create in the lawn.

Holes that have been dug deep near bushes and small trees can also damage these plants and their roots, and even destabilize them.

What causes small round holes in the lawn and yard and garden? This article is a guide on determining the culprits and repelling them.

hole in ground

The Animals That Dig Holes In The Yard At Night

Two of the worst and most common culprits that dig in yards at night are skunks and raccoons.

They are grub-eaters and they dig mostly to look for their food.

Raccoons are able to use the paws of their front limbs to pull up sod chunks, flip them, and uncover the grubs lying under them.

Meanwhile, skunks usually make shallow and small holes in lawns overnight. Rabbits are also known to be diggers of holes in gardens and yards, for they are burrowers too.

These animals like to dig during the night when they are less detectable by humans.

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There are also other animals that are diurnal (or active during daytime), such as squirrels, that also damage yards. However, they also dig during the night.

Animals dig in the yard for many reasons.

This wildlife usually burrows under the soil to use it as a shelter, or as previously mentioned, to look for food like grub worms. These food items can be found under the turf in the soil.

Rabbits, meanwhile, tend to take things easy, and have an appearance that are appealing to many people, including homeowners and their children.

In contrast, animals such as skunks and raccoons are generally unwanted in the yard and garden.

While skunks may not be aggressive animals, a lot of homeowners are nonetheless scared of their presence due to the possibility that they may be carriers of rabies. In addition, they also abhor the skunks’ spray.

Later on, we will discuss why skunks spray on you and the tactics you may use to discourage digging animals from ruining your yard. In the meantime, let us diagnose what animals are digging holes in your yard.

There are various animals that dig, tunnel, feed, or otherwise disturb turf grass. Below is a list of burrowing animals and the characteristics of the holes they make.

The list differentiates between holes made by various species, such as chipmunk holes vs snake holes. It also presents a sample roster of what animals live in holes in the ground.

Striped Skunk

  • no clearly visible hole
  • no mound of dirt that extends a few inches over surface
  • sod is rolled up neatly
image of raccoons


  • no clearly visible hole
  • no mound of dirt that extends a few inches over surface
  • sod is not rolled up neatly

Eastern Mole

  • no clearly visible hole
  • presence of mound of dirt that extends a few inches over surface
  • no visible plugged hole

Pocket Gopher

  • no clearly visible hole
  • presence of mound of dirt that extends a few inches over surface
  • presence of visible plugged hole


  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is not smaller than the size of a quarter
  • hole is bigger than a softball

Meadow Vole

  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is not smaller than the size of a quarter
  • hole is not bigger than a softball
  • hole has a smaller size compared to a golf ball

Eastern Chipmunk/13-Lined Ground Squirrel

  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is not smaller than the size of a quarter
  • hole is not bigger than a softball
  • hole does not have a smaller size compared to a golf ball
  • not characterized by multiple holes clustered near buildings

Norway Rat

  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is not smaller than the size of a quarter
  • hole is not bigger than a softball
  • hole does not have a smaller size compared to a golf ball
  • multiple holes clustered near buildings


  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is smaller than the size of a quarter
  • one inch of soil or taller around the hole

Cicada Killer Wasp

  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is smaller than the size of a quarter
  • absence of one inch of soil or taller around the hole
  • presence of “U-shaped” entry channel into the hole

Earthworm/Digger Bee

  • presence of clearly visible hole
  • hole is smaller than the size of a quarter
  • absence of one inch of soil or taller around the hole
  • no “U-shaped” entry channel into the hole
snake under concrete


  • many species do not dig holes
  • they simply invade the holes made by other digging animals
  • may eat the animal residing in a hole before or after it has stolen the hole from it

As can be seen from the list, there are many critters that frequent lawns and dig unsightly holes as they search for their food.

Moles create mounds and tunnels beneath the ground that leave such a mess, especially during spring. Meanwhile, raccoons and skunks usually dig during autumn, in preparation for winter. 

Animals dig in lawns because of their need for food.

Raccoons, moles, and skunks eat many kinds of grubs, worms, and insects. Animals usually dig again in the same location if they found the food there before.

If there are animals digging in your yard, it does not automatically follow that you have a problem with grub infestation.

How To Stop The Animals From Digging Holes

You can use some techniques and methods to keep burrowing animals from destroying your yard and make it easier to maintain a green and well-kept lawn.

Use grass seeds

Skunks dig precisely and are effective in minimizing the population of grubs. Their holes are relatively smaller, and they make pseudo aeration.

You can minimize skunk hole damage by broadcasting some grass seeds above it.

Reverse early damage

Raccoons are much ruder compared to skunks.

They flip over entire turf sections. In case you get to see the havoc they have done early enough, it is possible to flip back over the sod with the grass blades pointing up.

Water this portion of the grass immediately, so that the vegetation and the soil can recover.

Eliminate sources of food

Take away from the animals all food sources they can find in your property. Grubs are one of these food sources, and eliminating them will limit the food items that animal pests get attracted to in your yard.

Also make sure that trash bins are always sealed tightly with animal-proof lids. Ensure that you do not leave any food and water dishes of your pets outside.

Otherwise, make sure they are clean and empty so they will not attract critters.

If there are vegetables, fruit trees, or other vegetation that produce nuts and fruits in and around your yard or garden, make sure that the ground is always free of fallen food items.

They definitely draw skunks, raccoons, and other pests into your property.

Repel with strong lights

You can use strong lights to effectively repel skunks during the night, as well as other nocturnal animals that are most active after sunset.

Maintain a fence

chipmunk on fence

Your yard and property may benefit from a well-constructed fence that is regularly inspected.

Part of its routine maintenance is to check if animals have made tunnels beneath it and have created pathways and access points into your property.

Avoid poisoning nuisance animals

It is not a good idea to poison these critters. Aside from being inhumane, poisoning creates other problems for you.

Poison is generally unsafe for children and pets. You want them to play freely in your yard and enjoy the outdoors without you needing to worry about their safety and protection.

Spraying harsh chemicals meant to poison or repel these animals are not a good option. You need a healthy lawn, soil, and garden, and these chemicals ruin their health.

Killing pests is now rapidly becoming obsolete because of our increasingly higher awareness about environmental conservation and humane treatment of animals.

They may be pests to you, but they do not necessarily have to be killed.

If it is possible for you to relocate them someplace away from your property, this may be among the best options you can have.

Remove hiding places

Rocks and bushes around your property help make these pests feel right at home as your unwanted tenant. They love hiding behind these rocks to protect them until they have found or dug a burrow.

Spray mild chemicals

Alternately, you may want to try mixing Dawn Liquid Soap or an equivalent product with castor oil.

This solution has been shown to repel these creatures. To make the mixture, you can use 1/2 cup of castor oil and mix it with 1 ounce of Dawn plus 5 cups of tap water.

Place the solution in a spray bottle and use it around your property. You may also connect your spray bottle to the yard hose or any other tool that can help you cover more areas of your yard.

Spray all holes you can find and then cover them with dirt. Do this once a week until the pests are all gone.

Remove vacant burrows

Always be on the lookout for vacant burrows and remove them. 

These pests find these vacant holes comfortable, facilitating their stay around your home.

Securely block all entranceways of empty burrows with the use of gravel or rocks to prevent them from becoming cozy in these ready-made homes.

Ward off pest with Epsom salts

It has also been shown that Epsom salts may ward off burrowing pests, among its other uses.

You may sprinkle these Epsom salts around the plants in your yard in order to make them unpalatable to pests. With the unpleasant experience, they may just stop coming near your garden ever again.

Epsom salt is washed away easily by rain; you thus have to reapply it regularly and as necessary.

Plan your gardening beforehand

A yard with a vegetable or fruit garden is very attractive for many creatures, including birds and burrowing pests.

They love to feast on the vegetables and fruits you plant. You may want to plant vegetables in early spring in order to be able to harvest them before the pest season arrives.

image of cat litter

Sprinkle yard with cat litter and ammonia

If you or a neighbor has cats, you may use some of their cat litter and sprinkle it around in your yard or garden. The burrowing pests hate poop and urine, and will be repelled by it.

Alternately, you can also use ammonia by soaking it in some rags and putting these rags around your yard, especially over stones and rocks. Ammonia will function just like cat litter, with the pests thinking it is one and the same.

Plant daffodil and garlic

You can plant daffodil and garlic in your garden. They can serve to enhance your flower and herb garden and also serve to repel burrowing creatures naturally.

Try mothballs

It is also possible to use naphthalene or mothballs, putting them in the burrows’ pathway to deter them from entering these burrows. 

Recheck these mothballs after four to six weeks to see if you need to reapply more.

These naphthalene balls are safe for use around your yard as long as you use them properly.

Use essential oils

Burrowing pests cannot tolerate some of the strong essential oils and their smells. Some of these oils are cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, cedar oil, and eucalyptus oil.

You can sprinkle them around your garden, plants, and yard, and see if these critters can be repelled by them.

Repel with Hair

Hair, surprisingly, may be used to repel burrowing animals. This form of natural repellent can be sprinkled all over your garden.

They are effective because the creatures get to smell the human scent and naturally stay away. You may be able to collect the hair you need from hairdressers and barbers.

Sprinkle some cayenne pepper

This substance is a very strong-smelling pepper with a very hot taste.  You may sprinkle its seeds all over your yard and garden to repel these burrowing animals.

Remember to wear gloves always when handling this material, for it is irritating to the skin.

Use live traps

You can also use a trap with vegetable or fruit bait.

This is an economical method for getting rid of these animals, although it is labor-intensive.

You need to set the traps and check them daily, and if they caught something, you need to set them again after getting rid of the animal.

Using traps can be one of the most permanent ways of ridding your yard of these animals.

However, after all of them have been eradicated, more of their kind from their natural habitat will eventually find the empty niche that is your yard and garden sooner or later, and you will witness a new wave of re-colonization after some time.

When you place the bait, locate it as far inside the trap as possible, so that the animal will have to enter the trap with its whole body to get the bait.

After it has been caught, it will naturally trash about, which can turn your trap over and possibly set it free. To prevent this, place a heavy rock or brick on top of the trap to prevent it from being turned over.

Once you have caught an animal, relocate it to a faraway place to make sure it can never come back.

Be sure to follow your local laws in this regard. Consult with the local authorities if you are not aware of the laws concerning animal relocation.

Consider Talcum powder

Talcum powder can also be sprinkled around your yard to repel these burrowing pests.  While humans like the smell of talcum powder, these creatures hate it and will be repelled by it.

Utilize power of vibration

You can also repel burrowing creatures using vibration. Lawn windmills can generate ground vibration and scare them easily. When you use this device, you can put it near your yard’s entrance.

Hopefully, the critters will be discouraged enough, never to return.

Use Garlic and hot pepper mixture

Try to puree a mixture of garlic and hot pepper in the blender with water. Add liquid soap as well to provide stickiness to the final solution.  Spray this sticky solution around your yard as a repellent.

Lay black plastic on the ground

You can also try to lay black plastic over your garden with heavy rocks as weights. This black plastic sheeting will confuse the animals and discourage them from hanging around.

image of lettuce

Mix lettuce and pets’ urine

You may use the urine of cats or bobcats to mix with some lettuce leaves. 

The critters will think that they can feast on the lettuce, but will soon find out that the urine will give them an unpleasant feeling and turn them away.

Install electric fencing

If you install some electric fencing around your yard, the burrowing pests will get shocked by it and learn not to touch or get near it. Those who survive the experience will never climb the fence again.

Just make sure that you create measures to ensure that your children and pets can never be accidentally electrified as well. If you cannot guarantee this, it is better not to install the fence at all.

Shop for liquid repellents

There are commercially available liquid repellents you can buy at farm or agricultural supply stores. 

Shake the bottle well, follow the label’s instructions, and spray it on your plants. It will repel the majority of the burrowing creatures that pester your garden.

Apply white/agricultural lime

White lime or agricultural lime cause a sensation of burning as it comes into contact with skin. You can apply it in burrow entrances, which will burn the creatures’ feet as they walk on the lime. It will burn their feet and urge them to leave your place.

Seed yard regularly

If you seed your lawn regularly with varieties that have deep roots, it will not be destroyed easily by burrowing animals that wreak havoc on your property.

Cultivate beneficial nematodes

You can cultivate beneficial nematodes whose presence in the soil reduces the number of grubs in it. Grubs are the favorite food items of many burrowing animals so that they will be deprived of their food.

Install plan old regular fences

You can also install chain link or chicken wire fences over affected areas in your yard to discourage burrowing pests. Just ensure that they are always free of encroaching grass and other vegetation.

This method is labor-intensive.

Control Grub population

If you have a relatively healthy lawn, you will have a maximum of five grubs per square foot. The average lawn size of 5,000 square feet can tolerate 25,000 grubs. However, it is not a simple matter to eliminate all these grubs.

Chemical poison against them is also ineffective even if you apply it for many months. Sometimes, natural suppression may work.

Controlling the grub population will help reduce the digging of various animals in your yard, although this will not likely eliminate digging animals entirely.

Call a professional pest control service

If all of your efforts still fail and you still see holes made by pesky nocturnal animals in your yard, you can consider calling for the service of pest control professionals.

These wildlife control experts have extensive experience in removing wildlife and animal pests from your property.

It is a good option because it will be safe for you and your family, and they can even do the relocation of the animals for you.

They can also recommend measures by which you can prevent future incursions into your property.

In other words, they can, in collaboration with you, implement an effective and long-term pest prevention program.

Getting Rid Of Grubs

It is important to focus on eliminating grubs in your property because they are one of the main reasons why burrowing animals dig holes.

In addition, grubs also damage your grass by eating the roots, depriving the grass of the nutrients it needs and causing it to turn ugly brown.

Eliminating grubs thus help improve the health and appearance of your lawn’s grass.

Grubs are larval beetles, which can range from half an inch in length and a quarter of an inch in diameter up to a size that is bigger than the dimensions of a human thumb.

Most grubs are characterized by banded, fat bodies that are C-shaped.

They are semi-translucent and can be colored gray, yellow, or white.

Many types have dark gray or brown heads, with six small legs that cluster together near their head while the rest of the body extends beyond it.

You can eliminate grubs naturally by adding milky spore and nematodes to your grass and soil.

Nematodes release bacteria that kill grubs, and milky spore makes the soil inhospitable to them. It may take many years for this strategy to work if there are too many grubs on your lawn.

You may also not water your grass for a minimum of one month during to create artificial drought and kill grubs.

This will cause your grass to go dormant, which will revive as you start watering it again. It is a technique that is best applied in hot and dry areas. Cool and wet regions might not benefit from this method.

Chemical options, as previously mentioned, may be effective, but they are hazardous and more destructive.

The Importance Of Removing Hole-Digging Animals

It is very important to eliminate holes in your yard and the creatures that make them.

There are three main reasons for keeping your yard, garden, and property hole- and pest-free. We enumerate them as follows.

image of person in garden

They damage your yard

All of that burrowing activity damages your property and yard, making your surroundings unsightly, ugly, and unkempt.

These creatures thwart your planning, expense, and effort in creating a good landscape and aesthetic environment.

It is reasonable to see how painful it is to see these animals redesign and destroy your garden and yard.

They pose considerable danger to your family

The holes made by burrowing pests can injure and serve as a hazard for people roaming your yard, especially playing kids and pets.

Your children can seriously get hurt when they accidentally step on these holes and trip and fall.

Even adults are not immune to tripping and falling. Tripping can cause various leg and foot injuries, including torn ligaments, fractures, bruises, and more.

Dangerous encounters

Your dogs, other pets, and even you and your children can also encounter these animals. Since they are wild, it is safe to assume that they will not be friendly to you and your loved ones.

You, your family, and your pets can easily wind up hurt and injured, or worse, bitten and infected with rabies and other pathogenic organisms and diseases. Burrowing animals such as moles have been shown to be aggressive and unscrupulous towards people and pets.

It will not be comfortable for you to have your beloved pet or child going about your yard and encountering ruthless wildlife such as these.

The Potential Danger Posed By Raccoons

If you see a raccoon in the yard or in your garden, it is best to follow the widely accepted advice of wildlife experts: avoid it and do not approach it for any reason.

There is a real concern that raccoons can have rabies, and you can try to determine if it is infected by seeing some telltale signs.

These include foamy and wet discharge that spouts out of the raccoon’s eyes or mouth. It can also have matted, wet hair on the face.

Rabid raccoons seem to be disoriented, moving about in a wandering manner while staggering about. They also emit repeated noises that are high-pitched and which sound strange.

These behaviors show that a raccoon can be rabid. It is advised that you call the police or wildlife control professionals for assistance.

This is very important because rabid wildlife is a public health issue and is a serious threat to the community.

Raccoons are rarely aggressive to people. However, even without rabies, they can still serve as transmitters of various infectious diseases that also cause serious illness to pets and humans.

These diseases include leptospirosis and roundworm, among others. They spread these diseases through their urine and feces. They also carry ticks and fleas, which also transmit various infectious pathogens.

Raccoons also cause trash to scatter when they scavenge for food in trash bins. Like many other larger uninvited guests, raccoons can carry fleas and ticks into your yard. Raccoons are understandably unwelcome visitors in yards, gardens, and residential areas.

The presence of raccoons in your property means they sense and smell food that they can eat.

Other burrowing wild mammals can also spread diseases and rabies, such as skunks.

Related Questions

Why do skunks have odorous spray?

Skunks spray as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened. Their first option is to flee, and failing at that and getting cornered, they will then try to issue threatening behaviors such as raising the tail. hissing, and stamping its forelimbs.

If all of these do not work, they will then utilize their last option, which is to release their spray, a large volume of strong, smelly liquid which is very, very hard to remove.

What do snake holes look like?

Since many snake species do not burrow, they only really utilize the holes made by other creatures which are large enough for their bodies.

So, if you are looking for snake holes, they look like holes made by other critters.


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