tunnels in my garden

Asked May 23, 2018, 3:01 PM EDT

If you can direct me to the correct resource I would be very grateful. Someone is creating tunnels in my prepared beds and adjacent to the outer wall of my house where the soil has been disturbed and tree roots also run. The tunnels are several inches below the surface; I find them when heavy rains collapse their roofs. The vegetation is completely undisturbed. There is no elevated soil suggestive of moles (I have them also but they are a fine commensal). There are no surface paths or dead plants suggestive of voles. The only inhabitants I find are centipedes and pill bugs. This has been going on for several years now. I compact the pathway and fill with soil/sand mixture but it doesn't last. Occasionally our cat kills small (~ 2 inches long including tail) rodents that are fairly dark grey, dense fur, slender with elongated but not pointy face. I'm thinking maybe we have resident shrews? I find too much conflicting information on-line so I appreciate your guidance.

Anne Arundel County Maryland wildlife voles rats shrews tunnels in garden tunnels near walls

5 Responses

You do not mention the size (diameter) of the tunnels. This would be helpful in diagnosing the problem.

Shrews are small, so they may be the diggers. Look at images online. They will dig their own tunnels, or use the tunnels of voles or other animals.

Look at voles images, too. Voles are very destructive of plants, eating roots and girdling trunks, so the fact that you are not losing plants points to shrews, not voles. You can also easily do a search of these animals on our website. The search box is at the top of the homepage.

However, of greatest concern is rats. Rats like to tunnel along walls. Please read through our webpage about them: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/rats


Thank you! I did read your provided link on Norway rats and don't believe they are our tunnel-makers. The tunnels are long (the entire length/width of the house), clean, and at a constant depth. So far I haven't found nests, refuse, droppings, or anything else except centipedes and pill bugs in them. And roots of nearby azalea or trees. The tunnels are a consistent 3 fingers width (2") diameter. I rarely find openings until heavy rains collapse the roofs. The plants are healthy, no signs of munching or girdling. I have seen shrews (my cat catches them), and occasional chipmunks but none so far this year. Mole tunnels also but they are clearly different and don't run along the foundation. No critters entering the house. No unexpected activity at the bird feeders. No rats seen at night at the compost pile (about 20 feet from the house and no tunneling happening there). Thanks! Beverly

It sounds like you've been very observant to look for more clues. Other than shrews, we're not sure what might be causing the tunnels you describe. You might want to contact the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Services hotline (1-877-463-6497) to see if a wildlife expert could be of further assistance. http://dnr.maryland.gov/Wildlife/Pages/plants_wildlife/wildlifeproblems.aspx


Thank you! I will give DNR a call. I very much appreciate your guidance,