Hole in yard

Asked April 10, 2020, 3:37 PM EDT

Walking in my 94 yo fathers yard and see a large hole. A little big for a squirel, rabbit or skunk and no smell. Any idea how to fill so we can safely mow? About 8-10 " across and can't see depth. What might this be?
Thank you! Teresa

Eaton County Michigan

1 Response

A couple of thoughts....

Since there is no mounded soil (which is typical for a critter hole), is it possible that this hold could be caused by a rotting tree roots from a tree that was removed long ago?

Could this be a low spot where rain drains during a heavy rain?

If this is a critter hole, there is likely a burrow attached. It would be a good idea to use a stick or flexible tape measure to ascertain whether or not there is a borrow that goes below the hole. If there is no burrow (not a critter), all you need to do is fill in the hole with soil and tamp it down. If there is a burrow, it was possibly a made by a groundhog (woodchuck). These are the bad boys of the garden. They are herbivores, and your garden plants are like a salad bar.

Groundhogs are excellent burrowers, using burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernating. The average groundhog has been estimated to move approximately 35 cu ft. or 5,500 lb of soil when digging a burrow. Though groundhogs are the most solitary of the marmots, several individuals may occupy the same burrow. Groundhog burrows usually have two to five entrances, providing groundhogs their primary means of escape from predators. Burrows are particularly large, with up to 46 ft of tunnels buried up to 5 ft underground, and can undermine building foundations, not to mention pose a fall risk to a person. It's important to find all the holes, as closing just one by filling it in won't eliminate the critter from your lawn.

The burrow is used for safety, retreat in bad weather, hibernating, sleeping, love nest, and nursery. In addition to the nest, there is an excrement chamber. The nest chamber may be about twenty inches to three feet below ground surface. It is about sixteen inches wide and fourteen inches high. There are typically two burrow openings or holes. One is the main entrance, the other a spy hole. Description of the length of the burrow often includes the side galleries of the burrow.

Groundhogs are mostly diurnal, and are often active early in the morning or late afternoon.


Probably the best way to eradicate this fellow is with a trap, or you may wish to call an exterminator. Good luck.