Forum home Wildlife gardening

Mystery digger....

DesthemoanerDesthemoaner FlintshirePosts: 182

I wondered whether anyone could solve a mystery for me by identifying a burrowing/ digging wild creature which has been visiting my garden. 

I've attached a couple of pics. The location is a small area at the back of the shed where I store wood and building materials, and because the ground tends to be a tad boggy I've laid sections of an unused plastic soakaway on the ground to provide a firm base for outdoor storage.

Something has started digging in the area, as can (hopefully) be seen in the pictures, though whether from above or below ground I've no idea. The earth is being moved in the area where  the plastic sections have been laid, so the culprit is going to a fair bit of trouble.

I know little or nothing about moles, but our lawn remains intact and the "damage", if such it is, is confined to the area behind the shed.

Anyone have any clues? Someone suggested it might be a weasel, but I know even less about those fellers than I do about moles. 



Last edited: 27 May 2017 12:58:12


  • If it was moles you'd see the molehills.  Moles love fertile soil that is full of worms and yours does not seem to  fit that description.  Many small rodents burrow underground (mice, shrews etc) and can be very prersistant if you have intruded on their territory.  Toads also burrow into the ground and you do not need to have a pond to have a toad.  We had one who for years lived in the greenhouse, below the soil, and got quite upset each year when I was planting tomatoes into "his" warm soil.  "at the back of the shed! might suggest something that lives under the shed?

  • DesthemoanerDesthemoaner FlintshirePosts: 182

    Thanks for the reply.

    Well I suppose if it lives under the shed I'd better get ready to run, because its also burrowed through about a foot of concrete.Unless its dug laterally, in which case I have to take my proverbial hat off to its tenacity, strength and persistence.

    We do have a pond and frogs are regular visitors to our garden, but could a toad really disturb that much earth? I had in mind a rodent of some kind, but being relatively new to semi rural living, identification of the clues that wildlife leaves is a new science to me. 

    I'm not TERRIBLY bothered about the identity of the perpetrator, as long as it doesn't damage the lawn, and  the wife and I are big fans of wildlife of any kind so I won't be taking steps to relocate the little crittur.

    Or big crittur, if in fact it HAS dug through all that concrete.  

  • Of course if you are near open countryside......rabbits?  The photo is not really cl;ear enough to see.  I very much doubt digging through concrete - alongside is more likely.

  • DesthemoanerDesthemoaner FlintshirePosts: 182

    The earth has either been painstakingly dug from above between the gaps in the plastic sections, or  excavated from below by something which, I would hazard a guess, routinely travels underground. I guess rabbits are a possibility, though I've never seen any either in our garden or in the farmer's field next door. Although they tend to be shy creatures, I think I would have seen one by now if they were the culprits.

     I should maybe explain that the aforementioned field is about four, maybe five feet higher than our garden, there being an almost perpendicular clay bank on the boundary, so whatever it is has gone to a fair degree of trouble, IF it's come from the field. 

    Maybe I'll buy one of those cheap CCTV cameras and see whether I can catch the varmint at work. ;0)

  • a1154a1154 Sunny South Scotland Posts: 1,033

    Im overrun by short tailed voles. They leave soil like that everywhere, but you should be able to see their  holes. They dont damage my lawn, just borders. They have undermined some stonework though.

  •  Could be rats living in or under your shed or a fox scratching around for earthworms? Probably not rabbits as they would only come into your garden for something tasty to raid, like your veggie patch.

    You say there is a large bank between your garden & field, maybe it is a bank vole, which as its name suggests makes burrows in banks of earth or stone. They could well be digging around for small insects that form part of their diet. I think a field vole is unlikely as they tend to make burrows under the long grass on which they feed.

    I'm sure your camera will solve the mystery for you image

    Last edited: 27 May 2017 23:41:06

  • DesthemoanerDesthemoaner FlintshirePosts: 182

    I'd certainly welcome the presence of voles, though my welcome would be conditional upon their continuing to steer well clear of my lawn.

    No red carpet for any rat though, I'm afraid. I did find a dead rat on the lawn a couple of years back, and it occured to me that its rather flattened condition might have been the result of being dropped from height by a bird of prey.   I often see buzzards circling over the field next door, sometimes being divebombed by magpies or crows as they do so. No doubt that field is full of all manner of little varmints, and little wonder that some of them choose to avoid the attention of the buzzards by foraging occasionally behind my shed. 

    Thanks for all the replies, much appreciated.  image

    Last edited: 28 May 2017 20:45:44

  • a1154a1154 Sunny South Scotland Posts: 1,033

    ST voles, pretty destructive, and very cute.  Buzzards, kestrels, owls all like them too. 

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,184

    I think you've got rats living underneath the storage area and excavating a network of tunnels there. I'd take it all up and sort if out this summer and when you put it all back I'd put a couple of secure bait boxes in amongst it. 

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

  • DesthemoanerDesthemoaner FlintshirePosts: 182

    Well Dove, the other day I scraped some of the loose earth away from the surface and there was certainly a tunnel underneath.

    Not noticed any new digging over the days since I last posted here but yes, I'll grab my shovel, dig it all out and when I put it back, add a couple of land mines. Sorry, I meant "add a few traps". 

Sign In or Register to comment.