Garden Critter

Asked July 30, 2018, 6:30 PM EDT

I have just installed 4 tall planter boxes. Since then, I have had some kind of critter(s) wrecking havoc. First the birdbath was tipped over, then soaker hoses chewed to bits, then tubing for water system chewed, then white wrapping tape around the trees torn off. I have moles, I know that, but the holes and pits that these animals are digging from the outside not coming from the inside as a mole would do. My regular house exterminator checked it out and was puzzled. He put out rat bait that they use. There are dozens of diggings but no real holes, like it gets so far and says nope, that won't work and then tries another spot. I do not have a dog or cat. My neighbors are not affected. I am including some photos. One is the soaker hoses, one is a sample area of the holes, One is the tree tape. I will not install new sprinkler/soaker system until I have this solved.

Clackamas County Oregon rodents horticulture

1 Response

From holes that don't extend into burrows and the damage you describe, plus the fact that you're not describing damage to plants, the perpetrator is probably digging holes looking for earthworms, insects and grubs in the ground, in soaker hoses and in the bark of your trees. It's probably a skunk, but could be a raccoon or vole. Skunks dig small round holes with their noses. Voles dig very small holes, and racoon holes would be larger and messier. You might smell lingering skunk odor, but if the animal is not disturbed, it won't release the telltale aroma. These articles describes how to identify hole diggers, Ground Hole Identification http://icwdm.org/inspection/GroundHoles.aspx. Springtime Animal Damage to Your Landscape http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/springtime_animal_damage_in_your_landscape.

Skunks are nocturnal, and by eating many insects that are detrimental to our gardens are beneficial. However, there are ways to channel their attention to more appropriate places. Skunk repellents include castor oil/dishwashing liquid/water water spray, light (motion detector lights), citrus fruits, predator (dog/cat) urine available from garden centers, strong-scented soaps and ammonia soaked rags. You could have them trapped, but skunks are very common in our area, so that probably wouldn't work well. This article has additional suggestions, How to Identify and Get Rid of Skunks https://www.almanac.com/pest/skunks.

Skunks really are delightful animals. Since they're active at night you probably won't see them often. If you stay out of their zone, they will just go on about their daily business. However, if you have dogs, they will have to learn to avoid them. This article gives additional information about them, Living with Skunks https://wdfw.wa.gov/living/skunks.html.