Four Reasons Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes

I have some gardener friends and some of them constantly complain about squirrels for multiple reasons. One habit that drives my friends is that these rodents keep digging holes around. Obviously, the gardeners ask me why is this happening and how could they stop it.

Squirrels dig holes for different reasons. Most of the time, squirrels dig holes to bury nuts. They also dig holes when it’s time to retrieve buried nuts. In some instances, squirrels dig holes to pretend that they are burying nuts, tricking other animals. Ground squirrels dig holes to make burrows.

Generally speaking, squirrels dig holes for survival.

While this habit of theirs can help them stay alive, unfortunately, it can get on the nerves of homeowners, especially those that want nothing but the best looking lawns or gardens.

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If you are interested in knowing more about squirrels and the reasons why they dig holes, keep on reading.

Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes

Preparing for the Wintertime

It’s true that squirrels find nuts irresistible. But the truth is that they also eat seeds, flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

So, in other words, the diet of squirrels is primarily plant-based. However, they can also eat insects and small animals.

During the coldest months of the year, it’s no secret that many plants shed their leaves and stop bearing fruits.

What’s more, it can be challenging to look for food when winter strikes because of the low temperatures.

It’s because of this why squirrels prepare for the wintry weather by burying nuts, which they will dig up when the time is perfect.

While digging holes to bury nuts (and retrieve them, too) is vital for the survival of squirrels, sadly, it makes a lot of people despise these rodents.

Especially if you love having the best lawn or garden in the neighborhood, having squirrels around can leave you feeling frustrated.

By the way, there is one more thing that squirrels do to get ready for winter: they gain a lot of weight.

Keeping Their Tummies Happy

Just because the weather is not yet wintry doesn’t mean that squirrels won’t dig up buried nuts.

squirrel in hole

If they feel hungry and there is nothing else to eat, they will get their hands on nuts that they have buried to snack on them.

Daily, squirrels consume more than a quarter of a pound of food per day. It may not sound a lot.

However, if you will shrink to the size of a squirrel, you will realize that it’s a lot of food!

Squirrels usually dig up buried nuts at dawn to prepare for the day and in the afternoon to get ready for their trip to dreamland.

Besides keeping their tummies from growling, there is one more reason why it seems like squirrels are eating a lot: to keep their teeth from growing very long.

The teeth of squirrels do not stop growing.

To keep them from piercing the opposite jaw, which can make it impossible to eat, squirrels gnaw on an assortment of hard things to wear down their teeth.

Some of the things that allow squirrels to maintain just the right length of teeth are the shells of nuts.

Just a quick tip: When feeding squirrels, it’s a great idea to offer them nuts still in their shells.

Deceiving Food Thieves

The brains of squirrels are about the size of one of their favorite foods: a walnut.

Refrain from assuming that squirrels are stupid creatures just because they have tiny brains. You will be surprised to learn that squirrels are some of the most intelligent animals on the face of the planet.

A proof of this is the fact that they can fake burying nuts each time they sense that a food thief is watching them. This makes sure that bandits won’t be able to get their paws on the real deal.

Besides making false caches, squirrels also tend to bury their nuts in places that are hard for furry crooks to find or reach.

This ability of squirrels to make observations and carry out the necessary steps serves as a confirmation that they are smart, which is why these beady-eyed critters have been around for almost 40 million years now.

But just because squirrels are smart doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the sharpest memories. According to a study, squirrels tend to forget to recover nearly 75% of their buried nuts!

Making Tunnels and Holes

Squirrels live in trees. In some instances, they live in what’s called dreys. Dreys are squirrel nests that are out of branches, twigs, leaves, and mosses.

Squirrels make their dreys between tree branch forks. There are also instances where squirrels build dreys in attics and the spaces between walls.

There are squirrels that build their nests in the ground, which is why they are referred to as ground squirrels.

Needless to say, ground squirrels are burrowing animals — animals that dig tunnels and holes for nesting, protection and warmth.

The burrows that ground squirrels make are about four inches in diameter, although older entrances can be wider.

Ground squirrels can create burrow systems that can be up to 30 feet long!

Just because your lawn or garden is peppered with holes doesn’t necessarily mean right away that ground squirrels are the ones to blame.

Other animals that also tend to make tunnels and holes include:

  • Chipmunks
  • Rabbits
  • Gophers
  • Moles
  • Groundhogs
  • Snakes

Just a quick tip: If you want to find out which animal is residing in a hole in your lawn or garden, get in touch with a pest control company — never insert your hand in the hole to find out what’s living in it!

Keeping Squirrels From Digging

Fortunately, there are different ways to keep the area around your home from looking like it’s an archaeological site.

Here are some of the most effective tips and tricks to keep squirrels from digging:

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper powder or coffee grounds.
  • Put a wire mesh or chicken wire fence around plants.
  • Plant peppermint, garlic, and onion plants — squirrels hate their smells.
  • Lay a wire mesh on the soil that’s wide enough to allow plants to grow through.
  • Place realistic-looking owls on your property.
  • Spray imitation fox or wolf urine — you can buy the product online.
  • Install motion-activated water sprinklers around your home.
  • Install ultrasonic pest repellents.
  • Keep your lawn or garden free of rubbish.
  • Do not feed squirrels to give them the idea that they are not welcome.

Follow one or more of the solutions mentioned above, and you will stop seeing holes.

Just Before You Dig Deeper

Squirrels dig holes for different reasons.

Most of the time, it’s to bury nuts or pretend that they are burying something to mislead food thieves. In some instances, such as when ground squirrels are involved, it’s to create nests.

image of ground squirrel

No matter the case, there is no denying that holes can easily mar the appearance of your lawn or garden.

If you love squirrels and want to make them feel welcome, you will have to learn to live with the fact that they love to dig. Otherwise, you may carry out steps that can deter them from digging without harming or killing them.

Related Questions

What do ground squirrels look like?

Ground squirrels have stripes, which is why they look very much like chipmunks. However, they do not have stripes on their heads, unlike chipmunks. Ground squirrels have white rings around their eyes, and they are smaller than tree squirrels. As the name suggests, ground squirrels live in burrows in the ground.

What time do squirrels dig holes?

Squirrels are more active during the day than during the night. It’s because of this exactly why it is in the daytime when they tend to dig holes to bury or recover food, or trick other animals. If holes appear during the night, then it is for sure that other animals are responsible, such as skunks and raccoons.

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