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Who can be making these tunnels

Hello. Hope someone can make a suggestion.  I live in a fairly rural location with a large size garden.  Several areas around the garden (around a compost bin, under an apple tree and near an old foundation for a shed) have become riddled with shallow tunnels.  So much so that walking around the garden has become a hazard as the ground tends to give way underfoot when I least expect it. 

At first I had assumed it was moles but I don't get the typical mole hills anywhere so I'm beginning to doubt what it would be.  Does anyone have any suggestions what could be digging this underground 'city'.  I have seen once a weasel apparently trying to catch something in one of these areas.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 71,758

    Probably a field vole or two

    Their tunnels can be a nuisance, but they are the staple food of barn owls and kestrels - when there's a shortage of field voles in the winter the barn owls and kestrels starve.  

    Hopefully your voles will form part of someone's lunch before long image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,697

    Or possibly bank voles

    I have a similar sounding garden and we are pretty much over-run with bank voles (despite having put up a barn owl box and having plenty of raptors around, large and small.) They are especially fond of eating legume seeds, I find. image 

    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,003


  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,697

    Do rats tunnel? Round here we get 'rat runs' - shallow depressions where rats are regularly following the same route through the long grass, but I've not noticed them actually tunnelling. Except vertically when excavating my parsnips image

    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • Thank you for the replies.  Voles sounds quite likely but whether they are Bank or Field I wouldn't have a clue.  I'm not aware of any Barn Owls locally although that would be brilliant to see - we do have  a local population of buzzards so I guess they may pick off the odd vole or two.

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    I'd go for rats. Voles prefer deep cover grassy areas, plus they're too small to cause a network of tunnels under the locations you've described. Rats will do exactly what you've described, so brown rats will he the culprit. All the others are too small to do what you've described.

  • If they are rats - wouldn't I have seen evidence with their droppings all around?  Not discounting the possibility but I would of thought I would be finding their droppings all around if there were enough to make a community of them??

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 4,697

    We do have brown rats and yes, rat droppings are big enough to notice. As indeed are the rats. image

    As I said, I know we have voles in our garden (the dogs have caught a few so I've seen them close enough to definitively identify them). And they do tunnel and there are dozens and dozens of them so they do quite a lot of damage. They are quite a lot bigger than mice (which we also have around). 

    There'a fair chance that you also have some of all of them. Rats are everywhere but a fair sized colony (is that the right collective noun?) would be un-missable. You would have seen them, they are not as shy as other rodents. Field mice are also probably around.

    “There is no military solution
    Doesn't always end up as something worse”
  • So - since starting this thread I've now actually seen a vole in the garden (at home in the compost heap)and these lovelies have started to appear so its clear there are multiple culprits at work.   I don't generally mind sharing my space with the locals so I don't wish to eradicate either of them. However I'm wondering how I deal with all the tunnels.  They are literally all over the garden - the tunnels collapse as I walk over them - so is this damaging the creatures at all?  Also when I start mowing again in the spring there are various spots that I think will be scalped as the tunnels are raised above the ground slightly.  Should I invest in a roller to roll the lawn flat before I mow?  Will this deter or injur the moles/voles at all?


    Any suggestions how we can all share this garden successfully welcome!

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