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Gardening in Washington State

What is making tunnels in my yard?

There are a number of animals that can cause damage to lawns, gardens and crops in Washington through their tunneling habits. The most common pests are moles, voles, gophers and rats. Ground squirrels in eastern Washington and chipmunks statewide also burrow but are active during the day and so are usually easy to visually identify…but what about those diggers you never see? The new WSU Extension Fact Sheet, “What is Tunneling in My Yard” will help you identify the guilty parties so you can plan your management strategy.

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For more information please see What is Tunneling in My Yard? FS143E

Posted by: Dave Pehling, September 11, 2014

6 comments on “What is making tunnels in my yard?”

  1. Rose Marie Bayha said on April 12, 2017:

    We have round holes all over our yard, with no mounding around them (such as moles would make). Can they be snakes? Or, can they be rats. If so, what do we do about them. They are generally in the lawn areas, but some are in flower beds and around the vegetable garden. We have a dog, so can’t put out poison. We live in Lake Stevens.

    • Chalker-Scott, Linda K said on April 13, 2017:

      First, snakes don’t make their own holes (no feet…) but our garter snakes will occasionally go down established tunnels.

      In your case, look closely at the tunnel entrance diameter. If it is around an inch, you most likely have voles. If the holes are closer to two inches in diameter, you most likely have Norway rats. Both are very common in your area.

      For management, since you hesitate using rodenticides, you can trap the rodents in live traps (but then you must euthanize them…). Alternatively, you can make or buy a couple “trap boxes” to enclose a “kill trap” and use any of the common rat traps available at your local hardware or garden store. These large traps will catch either voles or rats and the box will protect pets and other non-target animals. Rolled oats mixed with a little peanut butter makes a good bait.

  2. Alfie said on October 15, 2017:

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this ojto a
    friend who haad been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact
    ordered me dinner simply because I found it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!!

    But yeah, thanjx for spending some tie to discuss this matter
    here on your web page.

  3. Pat said on September 6, 2019:

    We have a new 4 inch hole in our grass, no dirt pile. We live in Wenatchee. Any ideas?

  4. Carolyn DuPen said on July 7, 2021:

    At least a 4-inch hole in a rockery with lots of loose dirt underneath. Seattle, WA

  5. Starr Geary said on August 11, 2022:

    What about holes dug at a angle here in Alabama?

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