What is digging up my grass/beds?

km_austinNovember 14, 2008

Something in the past week has been digging shallow holes in my grass and beds. I've noticed a little digging in my compost bin, but I haven't been putting in food scraps lately because we found evidence of rats in our attic and garage (and caught a few). I don't have pets but have dogs around us. The digging seems to be happening at night. I live in suburbia, so we're surrounded by houses. Any ideas on what it could be, and how to deter it?



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PKponder TX(7b)

I was having the same strange digging and caught a skunk rooting around looking for bugs in the mulch, I suppose. I would have bet that it was an armadillo. I just happened to look out at the right moment in the night and saw him reflected in the landscape lights.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 9:23AM
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rick_mcdaniel(Lewisville, TX)

Shallow digging sounds more like skunk or possum, although armadillos do a lot of rooting. Most animals are more active at night.

I have heard claims that squirrels will even dig, in beds, in TX, but I haven't ever observed that. I suppose that would be possible.

I had a possum in the back yard last week. I think my dogs discouraged it from returning, however.

The best way to keep critters out, is to have dogs, but that will only work for fenced areas.

I try to coexist with critters, as they have just as much right to be here, as I do. If something comes along that might be dangerous, then I will relocate it somewhere more hospitable.

I try to encourage the rabbits to stay out of the back yard, though, as the dogs think they belong on the menu.

Ants, on the other hand, I have little use for.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 10:34AM
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I'm fairly certain that shallow, sort of trapezoidal-shaped holes are made by armadillos. I lost an entire begonia bed and some of my xeriscape garden to them this past summer. Grrrrrr.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 10:03AM
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I don't know if you have them like I do in town, but squirrels do dig holes, and of many sizes depending on how long they go at it. I just watched one do it yesterday. They seem to be really active very early in the morning. We have lots of possums too, but most of the little holes are squirrel holes--in the grass, in the beds.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 12:17PM
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mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

I've been seeing squirrels digging in the grass and have noticed digging in my pots too.

Their a pain sometimes.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2008 at 10:10PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

All of the above. I had a squirrel in Central Austin that left my back yard a mine field of holes. Out in the country I have had to battle armadillos and skunks. I brought a bunch of odd Mediterraneans Home and planted them. A day later they were pulled out of the bed and strewn around. This is routine. I cut pieces of chicken wire and put it were I have just seeded, I throw cayenne pepper around. That is my new line of attack. Results aren't in yet. I came out the other night and there was the armadillo right at the base if our ramp. My husband shone the light on him and he didn't budge. We walked down the ramp and got within 2 feet of him. We stopped. I did feel like using him like a football but couldn't lower myself to that action. My husband told me he couldn't shoot it. Maybe next year. He goes after the fresh plantings and the drought emboldens them. We now have a skunk trying to make himself our pet. It comes in and raids the cat food. We do leave our doors open a lot. My husband does want to shoot Pepe La Pew. I am a little frightened of the stink in my garden.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 10:47AM
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Same three words of advice for skunks, possums, and ESPECIALLY armadillos: Get A Gun. Otherwise nature's little bulldozers will wipe out your yard. And none of these are cute or cuddly or even safe to have around...rabies, sharp teeth, fleas, and in the case of armadillos, leprosy. (I am not kidding.) They will keep coming back, bringing more and more offspring, cousins, homeless friends, to visit your backyard buffet or just burrow under the garage and stay forever. Not a good thing.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2008 at 9:52PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Hey!!! If we're lucky the ancient Armadillo can join other extinct animals and we won't have to ever bother with them again!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think we should all move to the country "for the privacy" and kill everything that moves.
Who needs the suburbs where we've already bulldozed the natural plants and killed all the animals already here???? PJ

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 12:18PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Historically, leprosy has affected mankind since at least 600 BC, and was well-recognized in the civilizations of ancient China, Egypt and India.
Gee, not a lot of armadillos in these countries. Maybe it's transmitted by something entirely different. PJ

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 12:26PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

Here are some suggestions for controlling armidillos that don't involve killing them. A good way to cultivate a pretty garden on a large tract of land is to put all the common trade plants (tender hybrids etc...) in a stout fence in a smaller area around the areas you spend the most time in. Allowing the rest of the land to go back to its "natural" state (weeding out the noxious weeds like ragweed, Poison ivy,briar,wild privet and honeysuckles mainly) will cut down on water,chemicals,time and money. It will pay for the cost of the stout fence and provide a natural area for the animals to share with us. PJ

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 12:50PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

PJ, I have armadillos, but have been able to control where they root by using sulphur. They have very sensitive noses and will not go where they can smell sulphur. I, too, like to co-exist with all animals as much as is possible. After all, it IS their world, too!!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 9:01PM
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pjtexgirl(7b DFW)

You're a wonderful steward of the natural world! I have heard that your garden is absolutly lovely too :) PJ

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 9:36AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

And it is still waiting for you to come see what you would like out of it.......

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 11:18AM
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sam_mcgowan(Z9 TX)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but armadillos are spreading. I was surprised to see several that had been run over on the roads when I was up in West Tennessee back in May so their range is increasing. They do get into flower beds but although we have one denning just across the fence from our backyard, we haven't seen him/her in years.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:01PM
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Other replies have identified likely sources of your trouble. Problem is that the predators who control these pests have been eliminated. There are obviously two camps here and it is a wonder we have not had a flame war break out!
Your choice of control depends on how much damage you are willing to tolerate, and the amount of time, effort and money you're willing to invest in a non-lethal solution.

Just pray that you don't develop a hog problem.
Despite the seemingly bloodthirsty aspect, the lethal solution is what I'd opt for. Your damage is probably from just a few individual animals and their elimination should not be a big deal.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 1:30PM
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I wonder which of those critters might be dissuaded by marking your property with predator urine? You can buy coyote urine specially packaged for this purpose, or you could pee into a cup (apologies to the squeamish folk!).

I'd also like to see if chile pepper powder works. I don't have this problem myself, but my sister-in-law in Houston is always complaining about the squirrels digging up her garden.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 2:10PM
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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I was convinced it was armadillos until I happened to see a squirrel going crazy digging in my grass and in the mulch of my flower beds. Thankfully, he has found another place to dig - I haven't seen the guy for a while. I'm surprised such a little guy could do so much damage.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 9:42PM
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