This morning I found this hole in my lawn. Do you know what animal made it? Is it a pest that I should hire someone to get rid of? Thank you!
Please note that our expertise is in plants and gardening, not in identifying animals/pests. I’d suggest that you consider hiring someone to determine what type of critter dug that hole, and if it’s a pest, the best way to humanely get rid of it and seal the hole(s).
Identifying the culprit from a photo is not easy – there are several animals that dig holes/burrows. And from your photo, it’s hard to tell the size of the opening. A few of the more common critters in Toronto come to mind:
For example, rat holes are usually 5-10 cm (2-4) inches in diameter, and quite smooth/well-packed from the little fellas entering/leaving the burrow. You’ll find fresh, loose dirt around the entrance, in a fan-shaped pattern – kicked out by the rats as they dig the burrow (your photo seems to show dirt in this pattern). The holes are usually under 0.9 metres (3 feet long) and 46 cm (18 inches) deep.
Burrow holes dug by skunks or raccoons are larger than those dug by rats, with the entrance being around 20 cm (8 inches) wide. If there are fur clumps around the entrance, this is more likely from raccoons squeezing into the hole. These critters can also dig foraging holes, which are usually up to 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter and only 10 cm (4 inches) deep, shaped like cones. Generally, raccoons don’t dig burrows, but sometimes dig for food or to access a new spot. I don’t believe that your photo looks like a hole made by either of these animals.
Squirrels deserve a mention, too, but they usually dig tiny, shallow holes the size of a quarter (to bury/dig up treasures)- not something as architecturally complex as the hole in your photo, and they leave little or no surrounding soil. There are ground squirrel species that dig burrows and make tunnel systems for shelter, but these squirrels are not common in Ontario. I’ve seen a few chipmunks in my midtown neighbourhood recently. Chipmunks also dig holes/tunnels, but you’ll not see any dirt at the entrance or exit holes. And the openings are small, only 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) in diameter.
Here are sites that may be helpful:
- Ask a Master Gardener. Small holes in my grass…no sign of grubs but there are small holes all over my lawn. This response suggests ways to identify just who is making the holes, including hole shape/size, whether it leads to a burrow/tunnel, the presence of loose dirt around the hole (like yours), and other areas of the lawn that might be affected.
- Clemson Cooperative Extension’s Holes in the lawn. This article describes the types of holes typically made by various animals.
- Rat control in the City of Toronto – the City’s suggestions on how to deal with rat problems.
One of my Master Gardener colleagues found a mystery hole in her garden and identified the culprit by using a trail camera. She was hoping for opossum, but found that the little diggers were Norway rats. She also cautions that new rats may move in to the burrow to replace any critters removed by pest control companies. So if you do decide to get rid of the animals, seal the hole(s) afterwards.
Good luck in identifying your (possibly) unwelcome guest!
April 24 2022