Wildlife in your yard can be a pleasant source of entertainment, watching them scurry and scamper here and there amongst your landscape. Depending on where you live, the critters may be little rodents or they may be bigger than you are!
Unfortunately, wildlife can turn ugly if those animals begin wreaking havoc in a landscape. The University of Minnesota provides useful information to help you figure out who’s digging up your yard and destroying your prized petunias. It may be trickier than you think to determine what animal is to blame for the destruction – many of these critters work only at night under the cover of darkness.
Once you know 10 cute animals that can destroy your yard, you’ll be on your way to protecting your landscape from expensive and frustrating damage.
Although moles and voles look the same, they wreak very different types of damage in a yard. Moles eat insects, so as they tunnel underground, they are in search of tasty insect dinners consisting of worms, grubs and other delicious treats. Moles couldn’t care less about the roots of your plants. But, your plant roots are at risk when you have moles in your yard simply due to the tunnels that moles create underground. These tunnels can become so extensive that they disrupt and damage the root systems of plants, shrubs and even trees.
It’s the voles that are after your plants. Voles are voracious eaters, eating the roots of grass and plants. Voles will also pluck your seeds right out of the soil and eat the bulbs and rhizomes you plant for spring and summer blooms. Voles will even peel bark off trees if they get hungry enough. Voles create surface tunnels throughout the landscape, so you’ll see a network of tunnels along the surface of the ground when you have voles.
As cute as they are, chipmunks are not a welcome addition to your backyard community. Chipmunks will dig up flower bulbs, seedlings and seeds in a flower garden. Chipmunks are also burrowers, digging to make a nest. You may find damage from burrowing chipmunks in retaining walls, foundations and patios.
The pocket gopher is a rodent that burrows throughout the yard. Gophers can range in size from 5 inches up to 14 inches in length. When you have gophers tunneling under your soil, they will eat the roots of your plants as well as the above-ground vegetation. In fact, as gophers tunnel through their underground networks, they may even pull plants down into their tunnel from below the soil surface.
Squirrels are busy little creatures if they set up housekeeping in your yard. A squirrel’s number one job in life is to find food. Because this goal drives virtually everything the squirrel does, it can create lot of damage while it goes about its business. You may find structural damage to buildings and other outdoor areas caused by squirrels. Squirrels will easily chew through wood, insulation, shingles, aluminum and electrical wires. Squirrels also build large nests, and not just in trees. You may find a squirrel nest in an attic, chimney, vent and even in walls. Get some tips on how to keep squirrels out of your garden.
Rabbits have voracious appetites and they will target many different plants in a landscape. Rabbits will eat buds, small branches and stems to strip plants of all vegetation. Rabbits will even eat the tender growth from immature trees. If rabbits chew on evergreen branches, the tree or shrub will often not recover from the assault.
If opossums set up housekeeping in your yard, you may find evidence of their presence from the damage they produce as they make a nest and look for food. Opossums will get into outdoor trashcans and spread trash out as they look for tasty treats to eat. Opossums may nest in areas under porches or decks, creating a mess of debris with the nest.
If your area has a population of feral cats, you may notice damage from these animals if they spend time in your yard. Feral cats are especially interested in wild birds and they can quickly deplete the wild bird population in a yard. Feral cats may also scratch and dig in landscaping areas, causing damage to plants. It’s possible for feral cats to use landscaping areas as a large litter box, which can damage plants and spread disease.
Raccoons in a yard can turn the entire landscape upside down. A family of raccoons will wreak havoc on a garden as the animals forage and strip plants of everything good to eat. Raccoons will also steal birdseed out of birdfeeders and dump out garbage cans as they look for food. Raccoons will even turn over freshly laid sod in a yard as they look for tasty grubs hiding underneath. Raccoons are nocturnal animals, so the damage will occur primarily during the nighttime hours. Raccoons may also make a home in a sheltered area of the landscape, near building foundations.
If your landscape is inhabited by deer, you will notice plants and shrubs being eaten by the four-legged creatures. Deer target many ornamental plants, shrubs and even trees. Deer may also trample plants as they wander around your landscape. If deer rub their antlers against shrubs and trees, you will notice damage to these plants as well. It’s common for deer damage to happen at night when you aren’t watching. You can determine that the damage was deer-inflicted by looking for deer tracks in the soil and finding deer droppings near areas of damage.
Once you determine which furry friends are destroying your yard, it’s time to take action to preserve your landscape and stop costly damage from occurring. You might consider trapping animals and relocating them. Another option for preventing wildlife damage is to use repellent and deterrent ingredients or devices that will discourage the wildlife from visiting your yard.