Our backyard has woods behind it, which means we have plenty of wildlife coming over and under the fence. In most cases this is great, as I get to see so many different birds and animals, but it also means some critters come onto my property and cause damage.
These can include both snakes and squirrels.
I’ve had my battles with both and have seen the damage they can do to lawns and garden areas, in particular the holes that both will dig. I can debate the squirrel holes vs snake holes question all day long and can tell you what I prefer and how to deal with them.
Firstly, I want to explain the differences between squirrel holes and snake holes. It’s relatively easy to tell the difference as snakes and squirrels dig holes for very different reasons – in truth, snakes don’t even dig holes (more on that below).
It will also depend on the type of squirrel too. Those that live in trees will dig holes in your lawn to bury nuts, but you can also get ground squirrels who will live in burrows.
The difference between tree squirrel holes and snake holes
When a tree squirrel digs a hole in your yard or garden lawn, it’s not digging to create a tunnel or place to burrow and get into. Squirrels dig shallow holes to stash food in, like nuts.
They do this before the cold season sets in, as during winter it’s harder for them to find enough food to survive. To combat this problem, they will dig small holes in your lawn to hide nuts and other food sources in. They can then return in winter, dig the nuts up, and take them back to their nest in a tree.
Because the ground will get hard in winter, they don’t dig too deep, and won’t create a tunnel. It’s a surface hole, perhaps no deeper than 2 inches, and no wider than an inch. You will notice a small hole in the ground, and probably some disturbed grass next to it.
You might even find an acorn or nut in the hole…
Unfortunately, squirrels will dig a lot of holes and will create a lot of damage to your well-kept lawn. Incredibly, squirrels can remember the location of over 10,000 buried nuts. They are also not afraid to dig in the middle of your lawn or very close to your property.
But if you compare squirrel holes to snake holes and there are some big differences.
Snakes don’t actually dig holes. They will find a hole another animal has made and make it their home. Because of this, a snake hole can look like any type of hole.
The difference between ground squirrel holes and snake holes
Then you have ground squirrels who live underground, so make extensive burrow and tunnel networks. Some of these can be as big as 20 feet long and will have multiple entrances which look like two-inch-wide holes.
The problem you have when considering snake holes vs ground squirrel holes is that a squirrel might have made the hole originally, but now a snake lives in it.
As I mentioned, snakes live in holes that other animals created.
Could the holes belong to a different critter?
Unless you have seen a snake or squirrel, don’t dismiss the idea it could be a different animal making holes in your yard. I’ve previously written other guides that might help.
There’s also this diagram from Iowa State University which is very handy for identifying holes in your yard.
How to stop squirrels digging holes in your yard
I stopped squirrels digging into my yard lawn by using a motion detector that sprayed water. I also discouraged them from visiting my garden by removing food sources.
- Get a motion sensor water sprinkler (view on Amazon).
- Make sure outdoor bins are disguised and sealed.
- Allow your cats and dogs in the yard to chase them off.
- Buy a pretend predator like a fake bird of prey.
- Use a repellent like this on Amazon.
- Feed your pets inside so no food scraps are outside.
Handy Hint: For more tips, please read my guide to stopping squirrels digging in lawns.