Night critters digging my garden

Asked July 11, 2018, 12:35 PM EDT

(sent yesterday?) Some kind of unidentified critter has been digging shallow holes mostly on the edges of beds, garden and rocks...at night. Garlic/pepper spray seemed to prevent but then they expanded to many more areas, in bedding mix but also bark paths and berked edging...What might they be and what to do?

Marion County Oregon vertebrate pest management horticulture

3 Responses

Yikes! It is likely that you have either voles or pocket gophers. Both voles and gophers will damage plants by eating plant roots, bark, stems, leaves, tubers, and by tunneling.

The main management strategies for both voles and gophers are these:

  • Trapping
  • Baiting
  • Fumigation
  • Encouraging predators
  • Tilling
  • Plant protection (for next season)
The following publication, Meadow Voles and Pocket Gophers: Management in Lawns, Gardens, and Cropland, has in-depth descriptions of the biology, behavior, and the above mentioned management methods for voles and gophers: http://www.cals.uidaho.edu/edComm/pdf/PNW/PNW0627.pdf

Additionally, the following fact sheet on pocket gophers from the OSU Master Gardeners is a very helpful, quick read: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/12281/managinggophers.pdf

Good luck!

I think I may not have stated my question clearly. The "holes" were really more shallow surface digging. I'm wondering if possibly for insects or worms or similar? I also was thinking that they might be from opossum, raccoon or skunk?
Thanks again!

It will be helpful to do a little "digging" of your own here. In order to determine what exactly is affecting your garden, you'll need to scope out some key indicators, like scat, animal tracks, and discover what they are going after. The part of a plant that they are eating will be very helpful in aiding identification.

With regards to resources, the Identification and Assessment of Wildlife Damage Handbook has descriptions of many different types of animal damage that you can compare your garden's damage to. You can find that here: http://icwdm.org/handbook/damage/dam_id.pdf

If you would like to chat by phone, you can call my office at 503-373-3774.