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What's in that Hole?

Admit it. Holes can be mysterious. Even Alice found the rabbit hole intriguing.

Maybe it's because we know that there is more than meets the eye. It may not be Wonderland, but ground squirrel burrows can be 6 feet deep and 35 feet long. They have multiple entrances and can have nursery, food and sleep chambers. A kit fox's home often has a key hole shaped entrance and it's common to see flies buzzing about the opening of an active ground hog burrow.

So how do you know what's in that hole? Unless you are some nature TV host getting paid the big bucks, it's not such a good idea to just stick your hand in the hole to reach for whatever is inside. Start by getting a comfy lawnchair, a cool drink and sitting back and relaxing awhile. Just watch to see who goes in and out of the hole. Pay close attention. That snake you see gliding into the hole is probably just looking for lunch and chances are it's not his permanent address. Even if you see snake skin outside the hole, it could be from a ground squirrel. Those smart little critters sometimes gather up shedded snake skins to disguise their scent from hungry snakes.

If you're not the sit back, wait and watch type, you might want to take a closer look around the hole entrance for some poo. Scat can be very revealing. If you see bones, feathers and seeds in the scat, you might be outside a fox's den. If you see little brown round pellets, it could be from a rabbit. That white wash splatter outside the entrance could mean you are looking at the home of a burrowing owl. Check out the following site if you want to know more about scat. WARNING - for those who prefer to avoid looking at poo, there are photos: http://m.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife/identify_scat.cfm

Maybe you prefer to follow your nose to discover the inhabitant of that hole. Fox holes sometimes smell musty.  Surprisingly, your nose might not lead you to a skunk burrow. Apparently, those little stinkers can have an odor-free home.

Beyond looking for tufts of fur around the entrance to a hole, look for tracks. Identifying the animal tracks and scat is a great way to find out who lives in that hole. There is even an app for that: CritterTrax - Wild Animal Tracks & Scat at the iTunes store.

There is a science to identifying burrows. Check out these sites for detailed info and burrow photos:





Remember...Before Filling that Hole:

Check with your local State Department of Agriculture or County Agriculture Advisor for information on identifying animal holes and knowing your local protected animals.

Although, the Burrow Blocker is a farm and garden machine that uses only sand and water to fill holes, some states may require a pest control license if you are filling holes for hire.

End users such as ranchers, farmers, homeowners and such, are generally not required to be licensed. Check with your local Agriculture Departments for specific information.

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