Squirrel Excavation: Why Are Squirrels Digging in My Yard?

When taking a walk during the spring or fall, there is a high chance you will see squirrels running about. Sometimes, you will see them digging holes in the ground. Maybe they are even digging holes in your yard. 

This can be annoying and frustrating. You want your yard to look nice and now they are holes throughout it. Why do squirrels do this? 

There are answers to why squirrels dig holes in people’s yards, so let’s find out.

Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes and Why Are They Digging in My Yard?

When you are frustrated by the holes being dug in your yard, you can’t help but consider if the squirrel is digging them just to frustrate you.

However, we can ensure that squirrels have logical reasons for digging in yards, even if they don’t realize where they are digging. 

Your Yard Seems Safe

First, we should mention that if a squirrel is digging in your yard, it’s partially because they deem the area safe. Squirrels don’t dig holes for no reason, so when they do, they want to make sure that it’s in a good area. 

Yards are generally safe areas for squirrels anyways. It’s a section of space that is manicured and is typically predator-free (other than the dogs in the household.) If there is a fence then that’s extra protection. 

If you grow fruit and other crops in your yard, that can also be an attractive quality to squirrels. Overall, a yard can be the perfect place for a squirrel to dig a hole. 

Squirrels Dig Holes for Housing

Some squirrels, instead of building nests in trees, will burrow in the ground for shelter. Ground squirrels, as the name implies, are squirrels that will make their shelter in the ground and that’s where they live. 

Ground squirrel

Being in the ground gives a great amount of protection to squirrels. First, these holes are much harder for predators to find than a nest in a tree. Being hidden in the ground makes it difficult for predators to reach them unless they want to start digging too. 

Some other kinds of squirrels will also dig holes and make small tunnels underground. This is primarily used to keep warm during the winter months when squirrels go into hibernation. 

Keep the Babies Safe

For squirrels that already spend a lot of time underground for shelter, digging holes in the ground also gives them a space to keep their babies safe.

Squirrels give birth to babies twice a year, leaving them with many babies to take care of. 

When a squirrel builds holes in the ground and tunnels to connect them, they build a spot that can house its squirrel family. This includes all the babies that have been recently born as well. 

Holes for Food Storage

Squirrels can’t only carry so much food at a time. Nests can only hold so many resources before it gets full. To solve this issue, squirrels have taken up burying food and other supplies in the ground for safekeeping. 

If a squirrel is digging a hole in your yard, it might be using that hole to stash food for the day or even for the winter.

Holes for Food Storage

The ground will keep the food safe while also protecting it from the elements much better than a nest can. Underground food will be safer from snow than food in a nest. 

For squirrels that live underground, this is a normal spot to store their resources. They will dig several holes in a similar area and connect them with tunnels.

This allows them to have “rooms,” and some of them become food storage rooms. 

Holes for food storage have a specific name. They are called caches. Ground squirrels don’t always build caches because their shelter is already underground. However, for tree-dwelling squirrels, they will dig small holes that are only for food, and these are caches.

Red squirrel food cache and midden
 Source: Flickr

A cache isn’t a big hole at all. They are only about an inch deep, just big enough to store some acorns or other pieces of food. 

How To Tell if Squirrels Are Digging in Your Yard

Many small animals will dig holes in people’s yards for a variety of reasons. This makes it somewhat easy to mix up squirrel holes with other animal holes.

If the holes don’t bother you, then this might not matter. But if you want to remove the animals causing the holes, you need to know which animal you are dealing with. 

The first sign that it is a squirrel digging holes in your yard is that you spot many small holes in the ground. Again, squirrels making caches will dig very small holes that can easily be missed until there are many of them. 

When other animals dig holes in your yard, there are more likely to be tunnels than just storage places. Also, they will tend to be both deeper and wider. Squirrels are one of the smaller creatures that are digging holes in a yard.

Another good sign that these holes are from squirrels and not other animals is that you see or hear squirrels frequently.

These creatures are not known for being stealthy, so if you notice that there are more squirrels around than usual and then see holes, it’s safe to assume that the two are connected. 

You might like: Why Do Squirrels Chase Each Other? + [5 FAQs]

Squirrel Holes Can Help Your Lawn

This seems strange to hear, we understand. However, when done in moderation, holes can actually boost the health of your lawn. Holes will aerate the ground, providing more oxygen and other nutrients to the soil.

This is similar to what worms do. They make their trails and help mix up all the nutrients in the dirt.

Squirrels with their caches and ground squirrels with their tunnels can aid in the circulation of your lawn and therefore help your plants get more nutrients.

Just be aware that too many holes and tunnels can cause destruction. With too many holes, the ground won’t be strong enough to support the weight. This can be really tricky if you have furniture or other structural items in your yard.

You might like: How Far Do Squirrels Travel? (Here’s The Answer!)

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Do I Stop Squirrels from Digging in My Yard?

Now that you know that squirrels are the creatures causing those holes in your yard, you probably want to stop them so they can’t do any more destruction. These holes won’t fill themselves!

When you want to stop squirrels from digging in your yard, you need to make your yard a place they can’t trust. Look for the squirrel holes in your yard. If there is any food in them, remove it or scatter it about. Then, fill up the holes with more dirt or even mulch.

This action shows that their food isn’t safe in your yard. But this isn’t enough. You’ll probably also want to get a squirrel repellant (which they often sell in hardware stores) and use that in your yard as well.

The combination of messing with their food and making your yard unappealing will get the idea that your yard isn’t the place to be in their heads.

What Does it Mean When Squirrels Dig in the Grass?

When a squirrel is digging in the grass, it usually means one of two things if they aren’t a ground squirrel. First, they are digging a hole for their food. Throughout this piece, we’ve discussed how squirrels use holes to store food for the upcoming seasons. 

Another reason why a squirrel would dig in the grass is to search for food. In the grass, there are usually plenty of acorns, pinecones, and other sources of food that squirrels like to eat.

In the hunt for food, a squirrel will dig through the grass to make sure that not a single nut gets left behind.

Do Coffee Grounds Keep Squirrels Away?

Coffee grounds, whether they have been brewed or are still in the container, have a very strong smell. We use it as a “palate cleanser” when we are smelling different perfumes and we even use it to clean things like our garbage disposal. 

Coffee grounds also do a great job of keeping many different creatures away. Amongst the list of creatures it will repel, coffee grounds will also repel squirrels. 

If you need to keep squirrels away from your house or your yard, sprinkle a layer of coffee grounds around the perimeter of the yard or around any area that squirrels get close to.

Final Thoughts

Many people think that squirrels are cute creatures while others know that they can be a real pain.

Ground squirrels will dig in lawns to make their burrows and other squirrels will dig small holes to store food. This action can sometimes be good for the nutrient cycle of your lawn, but it can also cause too much destruction.

Have you dealt with squirrels digging in your yard? Let us know what you’ve done to get rid of them and fill the holes in the comment section.

About Justin Stewart

With a deep knowledge of plants, landscaping, and sustainable gardening practices, his engaging content offers practical tips, creative ideas to help you transform your backyards into thriving green havens. Get ready to unlock your backyard's full potential!

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