Ground Holes

Ground Hole Identification

This section deals with actual den holes not divots or depressions in the soil.

If you are dealing with divots in the soil then click here.

If there is no hole and just a groove present, consider Armadillos.

Does the hole end or extend into a burrow?

  • Hole ends.
  • Hole continues into a burrow. See below.

What is the diameter of hole?

3 inches or less?

3 inch hole

Greater than 3 inches?

3 inches or less:

Holes tend to be cleanly dug and silver dollar sized. Note the shiny quarter to the left of the hole. Chipmunks are easily seen during the day. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Crayfish can burrow 2 inch wide holes into the lawn. Lawns must be near water. Typically, there is a mud tower.
13-lined Ground Squirrels:
Very clean outside of hole. There may be another hole of similar size within 20 feet. They are easily seen on warm, sunny days. Look for grooves in the grass where they travel between holes.
Kangaroo Rats:
Den entrance is 2-3 inches wide and 3-4 inches long. They prefer sandy, dry soil. Populations can get quite high, >30 per acre.
Norway Rats:
Holes tend to be 2-3 inches wide and smooth from repeated use. Rats are secretive and rarely seen during the day. If you see them during daylight hours, it means you have a lot of rats on the premises. Photo at right shows a Norway rat hole with a 6" ruler above.
Skunks dig specific and individual holes in their quest for grubs and lawn insects. They will be systematic, moving from section to section each night.
The Pine Vole has dime-sized holes, often around the roots of plants. Voles are primarily nocturnal.


Greater than 3 inches:

These holes tend to be rather large (over 6 inches wide) and occur where pocket gophers and ground squirrels live.
Coyote dens tend to be difficult to find. Coyotes sometimes will live in a tree as the photo at the right shows.
Foxes will often take over a den dug by another animal, such as a woodchuck. Bird and animal parts may be found around the entrance. They can also dig 4-inch wide holes in the grass. Photos courtesy of Rob Erickson of WCT Magazine.
Mountain Beavers:
Found only in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. in coniferous forests. Holes average 6 to 8 inches across.
Prairie Dogs:
Usually found in colonies. Notice the soil around the hole is higher than the surrounding soil.
River Otters:
Typically near or in water.
Often under sheds, porches and other covered and dark crawl spaces. Odor not always present.
Den doesn't always have two holes, but one hole will have a dirt porch in front of it as shown in the photo at right. They avoid wet soils. Holes can average around 8" wide. Since woodchucks are active during daylight, their holes can often be distinguished from other creatures like badgers and skunks. It is common to see flies around the entrance of an active woodchuck burrow.