Return to the New England Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
what dug this hole?

Posted by wendyb 5A/MA (My Page) on
Tue, Jun 22, 10 at 22:59

I recently had a freshly planted hosta de-planted. Then a few days later I happened to see a skunk walking down my driveway at dusk. Then a few days later I noticed this hole. THis pine is at the edge of the woods and my yard. Do skunks live underground or is that just groundhogs? Do groundhogs pull out plants?

The hosta was about 10'-15' from the hole. The driveway is about 30'-40' away from the hole (passing the hosta on the way).

Of course, there's also the dog. She's been known to dig after voles, but I usually can tell cause she comes in dirty. I don't think she has discovered this area yet.

The hosta that got lifted was not vole-attacked for sure because I put my anti-vole measures in place during planting and the roots were untouched. The plant was just uplifted and moved. I think skunks do that. Not sure.


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Wendy,
I have often had skunks living on my property and they are a real pita if your dog doesnt learn quickly to give them a wide berth. Although skunks will live in dug out burrows, under garden sheds, in wood piles, ect. the burrow opening in your photo seems a little small for a skunk. If the opening is the size of a baseball that could be (sorry to say) a rat burrow. Either way eliminating all access to water is your first step. Skunks will travel further for water than rats (who need at least 1 oz a day) and skunks will have multiple burrows. Once you have a varmint problem your opinion about your neighbors koi pond changes quickly.

If you have not noticed your lawn being torn up every morning then it is likely skunks have not moved in (yet). This years crop of baby skunks are going to stay with mom this summer but will soon be looking for a home of their own, if you have seen adults travelling across your property I would make a point of being vigilant about the water issue and keep the dog outdoors as much as possible this summer. Good Luck.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Never heard of rats around these parts. Very woodsy and rural. No food sources nearby. The only water is a bird bath that is often dry. We do have field mice, yes, but I can't imagine rats, but I suppose anything is possible.

Did you exclude groundhog for some reason? Are they bigger or smaller than skunks?

My first instinct was to close up the hole, maybe throw some mothballs in it. But what if it sets up shop in a worse location? Or what if I do it at the wrong time of day?

I also wonder if that tree can take the root disturbance too. Its one of few evergreens (neighbor winter screen) on that side of the property and I would not like to lose it.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Looks like a woodchuck/groundhog hole to me but maybe other animals make this type of hole too.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

That looks like a groundhog hole to me and it there could very well be damage to the roots of the tree.

Groundhogs like to dig holes like that under trees and if roots are in the way, they just chew right through them.

If they have destroyed enough of the roots, there is little to hold the tree if there are strong winds, especially if the ground is saturated enough, the tree could come down.

If you want to know if something is living and/or using that hole for entrance and exit, you can fill it up some. If the soil is moved and piled on the outside, then it would be an entrance hole and if it is removed from the inside of the hole, it is an exit hole.

BUT, it really does look like a groundhog hole just like the ones I have around my property.

Fran


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

I'm using the white pine cone also in photo for scale, but that looks quite a bit smaller than my woodchuck holes. Usually woodchuck holes are 6 or so inches in diameter. Is my eye off?


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Thought this would be a helpful link for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tips for identifying the animal that dug a ground hole


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

wow... lots of info... I'm going to have to go take a closer look w/ruler. I think now too small for groundhog. Which leaves skunk or rat. ugh. But the tree roots location and "dirt porch" do point to groundhog too. arrrrrrrrrrrrggh

will also look around whole area for any signs of skunk activity. you would think that eventually I would smell something. its been 2-3 weeks now since first sighting.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

kt, you are one HOT TICKET to have come up w/ that link!
For the hole-pertrator, my vote goes to the G possibility. (Like "The Scottish Play", we dare not speak the name)But I'm just curious, why would rabbits not be mentioned by anyone?
Also, I vote for a skunk as the hosta-outer, as they are routing about for underground delicacies and i've not heard of other varmints doing that. (Voles would have eaten the roots, wouldn't they?)

suggestion-wendy- put a hose down the hole and let it go awhile.to make it soggy/unattractive to Gs. Fill hole w/ big rock. keep watchful.

best,
mindy


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Filling the hole with water will not do anything to prevent the "G" from using it and filling the hole with a big rock will not do anything to help either.

Been there, done that several times.

The water does nothing and the rock? Well all that will accomplish is the "G" will dig a new hole right beside the old one.

His/her home is down under there, if it is "G" and all that is needed is a new entry or exit hole.

Mindy, you are right about skunks. Only ones that will "nicely" move a plant, roots and all that are in the way of digging for bugs, and if it is newly planted, the soil is very loose and the skunks will love you for doing that. Makes less work for them to dig and more likely to have bugs roaming around in that loose soil.

Fran


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

If the skunks would put the plant back after they are done looking for bugs, that would be good!

I took some more pictures and measurements. The hole is probably too small for a "G".

I think there's a city of wildlife down there!!!

I used to have a major chipmunk problem right next to my foundation and JM Tamukeyama. I've been dousing the area with all sorts of repellents (and hardware cloth!) for awhile. They finally seem to have moved on this year. If the pine tree is their new digs, (pun!), so be it. It could be a worse location.

I don't even care if it is a "G". Maybe even Norway Rat okay. No veggie gardens here. I just don't want an "S" that might have a doggie encounter.

I've also been spraying liquid fence and other anti-everything granules around hosta this year. Maybe it all backfired.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Looks to me like a chipmunk, probably dug a bit wider at the opening due to the roots. At that size, definitely not a woodchuck. The skunk feeding holes would not be tunnels, just dug up areas, though narrow and deep. My chipmunks leave good sized piles of dirt by some of their holes. Does your dog go after the chipmunks as well as the voles? My cat used to keep the chipmunks & other rodents under control, but now that we no longer have a cat (the road is too busy) we are overrun with them.


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Oh yes, doggie gets all excited by chipmunks. Just the sound of them squeaking in the woods gets her running (good exercise). When I had the problem at my foundation, there was also lots of dirt piles around. I think the dog did some of the damage. But then I would barricade the area from dog and monitor dirt movement and there still was plenty.

That would be great if that was where the chippers moved to. I wonder if tree roots are typical for them. I know foundations are common. I would be happy to even sacrifice the pine. Its just a seedling I stuck there some years back. Didn't pay money for it - LOL!

do others concur chippers?


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

how come no one mentions rabbits?
best,
mindy


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Contrary to popular belief, rats are not just found in the city. The multiple small holes nearby are very suspicious, would you consider setting a trap nearby? You could use a havahart if you want to avoid murdering any cute little chipmunks.

Rabbits seem unlikely since the hole appears to be deep (from a google search: Cottontail rabbits don't make deep burrows like European rabbits which make complicated warrens deep in the earth. Cottontails are know as shallow nesters).


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

I can't remember who I was having this conversation with, but we agreed it is a big year for chipmunks. Big. I have seen several where they were absent for years.
Same person commented on the huge quantity of acorns last fall, which may have helped sustain the population.
Just a thought.
Mine like stonewalls.
Marie


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

wendy, here's what i found out about Eastern Cottontails.

Habitat: Edge environments where grassland meets early sucessional forests. Dense forest is not preferred. Nests are usually abandoned woodchuck burrows or hollows under logs or brush, lined with grasses or leaves.(these are referred to as 'scrapes'.)

so it seems there could be a rabbit in that hole IF it were an abandoned W den.

you ARE going to tell us if you do eventually I.D. the animal, yes?!
best,
mindy

Here is a link that might be useful: rabbit info


 o
RE: what dug this hole?

Thanks for the rabbit info. I doubt I will be able to ID the animal for sure. I would like to know, but I don't have to know.

As long as its not a skunk or something doing damage to my plants (besides the sacrifical pine), I guess I don't have to ID it. I don't need to get rid of it. at least not for now anyhow.

On the skunk front, I drove by some very stinky black & white road kill about 1/2 mile down the road yesterday afternoon. I live on a 30-40 mph road so road kill does happen. That gives me a little piece of mind, just in case the skunk lived too close for comfort. Either this hole or some other area. Seeing him on my driveway was really unnerving. I can't imagine having them as regular visitors as kt mentioned earlier.

And I do have lots of chipmunks around here thanks to my stone walls too. But this year less than usual. I think that's due to my spraying stuff. Last year I got some anti-squirrel spray to try on my foundation chipmunk problem, so I also spray it around the stone wall too. I think it helps. I like to keep the dog away from the stone wall too because of the bordering plants and the wall isn't super stable in many spots.

I'm inclined to go with the chipmunk likelihood as nhbabs surmises...the nearby row of very clear chipmunk holes does point strongly to them being involved. And if they are happy there, fine with me. They're not at my foundation. not in my planted walls. live and let live.

so I appreciate everyone's input. If I get a motion-detected camera setup, I'll let you know what it finds -- LOL! I think that's the only way to absolutely find out. But we have elminated a bunch of possibilities.

Oh yeah, there was one other thing I was going to try that I read. Putting down flour near the holes can provide some tracking clues. I intend to do that when I get some time. And some flour -- I am actually low on flour.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the New England Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here