Why Do Squirrels Dig Holes In Your Yard: An Expert Explains

Owning a yard that has been infested with squirrels can be a nightmare, considering how they might be ruining your yard by digging holes.

Why do squirrels dig holes in your yard? Squirrels dig holes in your yard to store food. During the chilly winter season, they have a ready source of food due to this food storage. Squirrels also dig larger holes for shelter.

Doctoral student Mikel Delgado and other researchers from the University of Berkeley spent time studying squirrels, learning their habits better, and they observed that not only do squirrels dig holes to bury nuts, they also remember most of the storage locations.

How Do You Stop Squirrels From Digging Holes In Your Yard?

There are diverse ways to stop squirrels from digging holes in your yard, including removing their food sources, getting a guard dog, using repellents, and covering the soil.

Here are details on measures you can take to prevent or stop a squirrel infestation in your yard.

  • Remove Their Food Source

This is the most important step to take when trying to get rid of squirrels on your lawn. The reason why squirrels are there in the first place is that there are edible food substances in your yard, making it an appealing feeding ground for them. By removing these food items or sources, you can effectively discourage them from coming around and tearing up your lawn.

Squirrels are foragers by nature, and will eat almost anything edible including nuts, corn, broccoli, fruits, seeds, plants, and even insects. If you can find a way to get rid of these, then you have already taken the best step.

  • Get a Guard Dog

Another effective way to free your lawn of squirrels is by scaring them away with a guard dog. To make sure this measure works properly, the dog should not be chained but should have the freedom to roam about the yard. Depending on their breed and personality, not all dogs can chase squirrels effectively, so you might need one that can scare them away without killing them.

  • Get a Repellant

Some substances are known to strongly discourage the presence of squirrels, and they include chili peppers and mint. You can take a step further by buying and spraying the urine of a natural squirrel predator – like foxes – all around your yard. There are some manufacturers that sell products that can be used to repel squirrels.

  • Cover Your Plants and Seeds

This method is particularly useful in cases where squirrels target your growing plants. You can set up a physical barrier made up of wire mesh around your plants, preventing the squirrels from getting access to them.

  • Change Your Bird Feeders

Squirrels are notorious when it comes to stealing food from bird feeders. You can make your bird feeders immune to raids by squirrels by taking some measures. For instance, you should suspend your bed feeder at least 5 ft above the ground, and at least 10 ft away from any trees, roofs, or other platforms that squirrels can jump from.

There are other precautions that you can take against squirrels, with relative levels of effectiveness. They include spreading mulch over your seeds to hide them and changing the seeds that you grow. Other measures are always keeping your trash cans closed and using noisemakers that are activated by motion.

Why do squirrels constantly dig holes?

Squirrels dig holes to store food, hide food from other animals, and also for shelter.

Dennis E. Peterson – a Master’s Degree student at the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah – wrote a detailed paper on the golden-mantled ground squirrel.

In his research, he focused on the most notable behaviors of this squirrel breed, including their feeding habits and burrowing activity.

According to his study, there are three main reasons why squirrels dig holes – food storage, nesting and hibernation, and emergency escape.

In the case of food storage, after foraging for food, squirrels then dig holes to store it in. When squirrels hide their food in the ground, they can always come to find their edibles during the winter, ensuring that they do not go hungry when food is scarce.

Apart from storing food, these holes also served as hiding spots. Squirrels are known for stealing food from each other, so they dig holes to keep their food items safe from other squirrels.

Squirrels are smarter than we give them credit for, and they prove so with some of the holes that they dig. Sometimes, in order to confuse and trick other animals, squirrels dig holes and leave them empty, leading competitors to think that there is food in them.

The other reasons that Dennis E. Peterson mentioned in his paper – escape, and nesting – could also be why squirrels are making holes in your yard. They dig numerous escape holes around areas where they forage so that they always have places to run into when they are being pursued.

Their nesting burrows are a bit more extensive than their escape holes, as they spend a lot of time there. For the golden-mantled golden squirrel, about 80% of its lifetime is spent in its burrows.

Table Showing How Actual Homeowners Dealt with Squirrels in their Yards

Tactics used by homeowners to stop squirrels from digging into lawnsPercentage of Total Responses
caging squirrels and relocating them across a river so that they will never ruin your lawn by digging 44 %
allow a cat to roam your yard so that the squirrels will avoid storing their food in your yard22 %
use a ultrasonic pest repellent device that will ensure that squirrels are not on your property burrowing into your lawn33 %
data derived from various forums for homeowners, and landscaping

Here is a video that shows how to rid your yard of squirrel holes:

Is it good to have squirrels in your yard?

Having squirrels in your yard can be both good and bad, depending on what you use your yard for, and how environmentally conscious you are.

If squirrels are walking along your fence, you can deter them by adding defender spikes, click here to view them on Amazon.

To most people who are pet lovers, squirrels are physically appealing, as their long tails and fluffy appearance make them seem cute. However, for people who own lawns, squirrels are seen in a vastly different light, particularly if a lot of them infest a piece of land at once.

As destructive as they are, squirrels also provide some advantages. Here are a few of the pros and cons of having squirrels around.


  • They Contribute to Forest Ecosystems

Squirrels are very important in the ecosystem of forests, as they help in the distribution of plants over wide areas. This is because sometimes when a squirrel finds seeds and buries them, they are unable to remember where the seeds are when they need them.

When these seeds are left underground for a while, they begin to germinate and grow into plants. This makes squirrels as effective as actual farmers, as they plant seeds, contributing to the growth of forests.

  • They Are Fun To Watch

Before you say that this is a weak reason for you to want squirrels around, think again. To put things straight, squirrels look good. Squirrels come in assorted sizes and colors, and they are often full of boundless energy. Watching one or more squirrels interact with themselves and the environment can be quite interesting. These displays can be as exciting as that of any of our well-loved pets.


  • They Damage Yards

As mentioned at several points in this write-up, squirrels cause damage to lawns by digging up holes to either find or store food. If you have a tidy yard, an infestation by squirrels can make it very scattered and unsightly. I recommend that you purchase a sack of Pennington One Step Grass Seed for your lawn bald spots.  It is available on Amazon, click here to view the details. Apart from the earth itself, squirrels also cause harm to farms, sometimes eating up seeds and plant roots and leaves.

  • They Damage Houses

Apart from your lawn outside, your house itself can also be in danger from squirrels. These little rodents live often live in furnace ducts and vents since they provide safe shelter from predators.

However, in the process, squirrels end up littering your vents and furnace ducts with feces, which is very unsanitary and can cause disease. Squirrels also make scratching sounds which is often a big nuisance, and if they die in a vent, getting them out can be ridiculously hard.

If you need more reasons why a squirrel infestation is bad, read on. Sometimes, people stumble over squirrel holes, either at night or because some holes are partly covered. Also, squirrels are known to eat food belonging to pets such as dogs, cats, and birds. Finally, when there is a large connection of squirrel holes in a small space, you might experience sudden collapses of the ground.

What does a squirrel hole look like?

The holes dug by ground squirrels are distinct because their entrances are usually clean and are often about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

Squirrels are different from other burrowing animals for assorted reasons, including the fact that the holes they dig are unique. From their diameter to their underground length to the appearance of their opening, squirrel holes stand out from others. Below, some specifics regarding identifying a squirrel’s hole are explained.

One unique feature of a squirrel hole is how wide it is at the opening. Most times, the diameter is around 2 inches (5 cm). Anything notably wider or narrower than this is not a squirrel hole but belongs to other animals.

Another characteristic of a squirrel’s hole is how long it is underground. While this might not be easy to check, considering that the underground length is not visible, it can still be helpful to know. In most cases, squirrels can burrow up to 20 ft underground.

In addition to the features mentioned above, you might also want to take note of the appearance of the entrance to a squirrel’s hole. When squirrels dig holes, they often create tidy results. The outside of a squirrel’s home is usually clean and does not have any excavated soil sitting around. Also, the grass surrounding the holes is usually worn, showing signs of constant activity by squirrels.

One final characteristic that you might want to put in mind is that squirrel holes are not isolated. In the case of ground squirrels that have dens underground, there are usually many entrances to access these holes. This means that if you find a squirrel hole, you are likely to find another one close by.

How to fill squirrel holes

Instead of using just sand, squirrel holes are best filled with a mix of sand and water. This combo fills up squirrel holes and makes it hard for them to return.

There are several reasons why it is quite important to fill up squirrel holes once you find them. For pieces of land that have a lot of squirrel holes in a small area, it is very possible for them to collapse suddenly, due to a large amount of space underneath.

Apart from these collapses, it is also possible for someone to trip over a squirrel hole that is not very visible, hurting themselves in the process.

While these hazards make it evident that squirrel holes need to be closed, doing it successfully is another issue entirely. There are incidents where people attempted to close squirrel holes by simply scooping sand with shovels to cover or fill up the holes. Returning the next day, these people were surprised to see that a lot of the holes were open once again.

The reason for this is that when you simply cover up a squirrel hole with sand, the ground squirrel will remain underneath. Squirrels are fast, efficient diggers, and once you are done filling up and moving on, they will simply dig out the holes again.

One way to fill up squirrel holes properly is to use a machine that was designed for that specific purpose. The best hole-filling machines work by pumping a combination of water and sand into a squirrel hole. The pasty mix will flow properly into the den, filling it properly from the bottom up. Unlike using normal sand, this method will not give room for ground squirrels to start digging again.

Another effective way is to place a hose in the squirrel hole, channeling water into the den. This effectively chases out the squirrels from other openings. Afterward, you can fill the holes with substances that repel squirrels, making sure they never return.

Do squirrels dig for grubs? 

Yes, squirrels occasionally dig for grubs.

According to an expository on squirrels by National Geographic, they are omnivores and eat insects, eggs, and caterpillars.

When considering burrowing animals, most of them are omnivorous. This means that they feed on both plant and animal matter. People often think that squirrels are an exception to this since we only focus on their plant-based diet. Apart from eating nuts, seeds, roots, plants, fruits, and acorns, squirrels also eat animal matter. If you do see a squirrel digging, it just might be for grubs.

Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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