Can you tell me what creature made these holes?

Asked July 29, 2020, 12:07 PM EDT

Hello, within the past week, since last mowing, two holes have appeared in our backyard. I would suspect some sort of cave-in, but there is grass scattered around, like it was flung there. The big hole curves away to the side like a tunnel. There is a third spot that looks hole-like, but I can't see a hole. These are not mole holes. We have a small wild rabbit that has lived in the neighborhood for over a year. He spends a lot of time in the area of the yard that is naturalized with native shrubs and weeds. He is my main suspect, but the holes seem very big for him to have dug. The rabbit is small, about twice as big as a squirrel. I'm going to try to send nine photos of the holes. This will be three emails. The 2nd and 3rd will be titled "more photos of hole".

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

Hello and thank you for contacting OSU Extension Service.

I will offer my assessment, but I may need to forward these photos on to the statewide wildlife specialist for OSU Extension for a second opinion.

The most likely culprit from what I see in these photos is the vole. These rodents are mouse-like, and dig extensive tunnels with small openings. The second and third photos seem to show multiple openings, as well as another sign of voles, clipped grass. The most common vole species in western Oregon are the Gray-tailed vole (Microtus canicaudus) and the Townsend's vole (Microtus townsendii). The larger opening could be a place where their tunnel collapsed.

Our OSU Extension Wildlife Specialist, Dana Sanchez, put together a great webinar on burrowing critters, including voles. It contains a discussion on habitat, species biology, management strategies to avoid damage, etc. The discussion on Voles starts around minute 30:00. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/video/dueling-diggers-gophers-moles-voles-ground-squirrels

I hope this response helps. Thank you for submitting these photos, which are always helpful.

If you have any further questions, please let me know.