What kind of critter is digging in the mulch below my trees

I’ve got about 15 in-ground trees. For every one I add manure compose, leaf mould, and pine bark mulch. Something is digging into the top dressing and I can’t figure out what it is. The critter disturbs a 4 inch circle down through the mulch. They don’t always reach native soil. There are zero tunnels so n I’m certain it’s not voles or moles. It’s not deer or else the tender new growth on the trees would be eaten. I wondered if it might be a skunk or coon or something like that but I’m not sure. The only thing I’ve ever seen on the mulch were Robins. I thought maybe they were burrowing down to find worms or something. No visable prints anywhere.


Feral cats like to use my mulch for litter.

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Could be a skunk digging for grubs. That’s what it usually is here.

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I’ve not seen any ferrell cats around here nor do I see any excrement in the excavations. Just weird that it happens on almost every tree.

Maybe I’ll borrow my neighbors game cam and see for sure what it is.

Do you have pocket gophers where you are? If so, that would be about the right sized for one of their holes.

Typically PG’s will leave more of a mound of dirt by their exit holes, but perhaps you got a pile of mulch instead.

Whatever it is, I would be concerned that it is diging close enough to the tree to be disturbing the roots (and/or eating them).

I’ve seen squirrels do that in my yard. Maybe, they are looking for hidden treasures.

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No pocket gophers in this part of the country. And as mentioned no signs of a tunnel. Pretty bizarre overall. Just seems weird that this occurs on nearly every tree I have.

If that were my yard it would be Squirrels or Chipmunks. They bury nuts in the fall in the “easy” spots and then retrieve them in winter/spring. My mulch looks just like that but instead of one hole there might be 10.

I have had rabbits do this . They were eating roots but that happens before things green up .

Robins will dig in mulch… they don’t usually make a hole quite like that but they certainly scatter my mulch around.

My money is on a skunk . The pic looks like typical skunk diggings.
Here is a video catching them in the act at work

What fruitnut and chartman said — skunk.


I vote for the game cam. I have one to answer questions like that.
To me it looks like tree rats (squirrels).
Good to know what it is because if they eat fruit, it would be good to have a fruit protection plan in place. :wink:

My vote is squirrels. That’s typical tree rat digging.

In my yard and orchard, it is a skunk. It’s the big, fat grubs that they are going for. Fortunately, they also dig out yellowjacket nests now that they found my land to dig in. They eat the young, so they are welcome to do that!

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For the last 2 nights I’ve been using my brother in laws game cam. First night I did not have any animal activity. Last night the camera took 1 pic but nothing was visible on the pic. Two of the trees had noticeable excavations in the mulch. Most of the pics were from the daytime of my daughter running around the yard.

Mystery still exists! Still using the cam

Well there’s a clue! :smile:

Lol. Actually my daughter is just as interested in finding out what the critter it is as I am. She’s pretending to be Dora and she’s on a mission with me. We’ll figure it out

Dora just got caught vaping in the bathroom of her Highschool… :neutral_face: