How To Tell What Critter Is Digging Near Your Home

Animals like groundhogs, squirrels, raccoons and moles like to dig, chew, burrow and explore. The droppings and odors they leave behind are health hazards, too. It’s necessary to recognize the animal that’s causing the harm, and decide the best way to humanely remove it to protect your home. Here are several other indicators of animal activity to watch for that will help you narrow down the potential suspects:

  • If you have found digging under your deck or porch, tiny patches of torn-up turf, and a distinct odor, it’s most likely a skunk. Skunks burrow under buildings and mostly feed on grubs and insects.
  • If there are sounds in your attic, you probably have squirrels or raccoons nesting. Raccoons will come out at night; squirrels most often during the day. Young raccoons also sound like puppies and can be very vocal.
  • If you have long underground burrows in your grass and your greenhouse, and have noticed flowers being eaten, chances are a woodchuck − also known as a groundhog or whistle-pig − has made your lawn his home. Smaller burrows and disappearing flower bulbs may mean chipmunks or moles.

You will figure out what kind of animal is living under your porch or shed by finding the entry point and stuffing crumpled newspaper in it. An animal can easily pass a newspaper to enter or exit the hole. If the newspaper is removed at night, you are dealing with a nocturnal rodent, such as an opossum, raccoon, or skunk. If the newspaper is changed during the day, it could be a woodchuck. You can also sprinkle flour near the entry point to see when footprints appear to find out when the animal is involved.


Trapping these animals would normally be the best way of solving the problem, and when it comes to small rodents such as rats and mice, conventional snap traps baited with meat or fruit may be effective in capturing the animals. Larger animals such as raccoons, woodchucks or groundhogs will require a cage trap, and this should be located in a prominent position near the entry or exit point. There are lethal snares available which are used by some more conventional trappers, and glue traps which stick the animal to the pad and then waiting for the animal to die, but both of these can be a threat to other animals and children, as well as being cruel ways to deal with animals.