frankd
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Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 1:36 am
Location: Plainfield, IL, USA

Help identifying critter

I've got a critter that ate most of my tomato plants when they were small and tender. It left a larger plant alone. It also ate my small green pepper and cucumber plants. It tunnelled under my wire mesh fence that surrounds the garden and it's also done some tunnneling in a small (about 3 foot square) area of my lawn. Most of the lawn damage are paths that are shallow that go nowhere, but there are a couple that lead off with a 1.25-1.5 inch tunnel. I know of 2 tunnels under the fence and into the garden.

I was thinking it's moles, but there aren't any mounds and I can't find evidence of the digging leading away from the area. What else?? Could it be ground squrrels?? Rabbits??

Frank

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Kisal
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Posts: 7648
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 5:04 am
Location: Oregon

It's very possible that they are ground squirrels. I believe Franklin's ground squirrel and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel are both common in your area. Both species produce many shallow, dead-end burrows, which are used for hiding. Also, somewhat longer blind tunnels are used as latrines, others can be nesting chambers, and some may serve as graneries for food storage. The hibernation chambers are much deeper in the earth.

The burrows of Franklin's ground squirrels will have soil mounded at the entrance. The burrows of the thirteen-lined ground squirrel do not.

Also consider voles. Narrow paths through grass are a common sign that they are present. Some species of voles will also tunnel underground, but the majority create surface "tunnels" through grassy areas.

Remember that true burrowers like ground squirrels are important contributors to soil aeration. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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