You may be wondering exactly what those little dirt piles next to your house are, or perhaps you’re wondering exactly what type of animals you’ve seen causing damage to your concrete foundation.
In this article, we will help you identify exactly which critters can be found Digging or Burrowing under your home, and just how much damage they can cause to your foundation!
Moles are easily one of the best diggers one can find, however even that doesn’t prevent them from having to deal with predators and lack of food supply.
Not only does a foundation supply protection from water damage and ice during the cold winter months, but it also shields the tunnels of the moles from predators that can dig straight down into them.
Additionally, the heat from your home will often lure in bugs and other things that the moles may eat, which can attract them further.
How to Identify The Mole is Doing the Damage
Generally speaking, it is easy to identify if there is a mole causing problems under or around your foundation.
You may see mounds of dirt surrounding your home, and if you were doing projects that require digging through the top layer of soil, you will come across tunnels and trenches created by the moles.
Lastly, if you are more active at night around your home, you may even see the moles as they look for food and water sources among other things.
Problems Moles can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
Fortunately, moles are not able to chew directly through concrete.
They can, however, dig directly underneath it which allows water to settle under the foundation.
As the earth eventually settles and fills the holes and tunnels made by the moles, the foundation will shift and may even crack, and this can be very expensive to fix.
Moles can be very difficult to defend your property against, but if you find yourself with a colony growing nearby it would be best to call a pest removal company.
If you are looking to do it yourself, there are poison pellets available for purchase to kill the moles, however they may also harm other small animals and predators that eat the moles including birds, Coyotes and even buzzards.
Mice are highly food motivated animals and they will do anything and everything if it means they get food in their stomachs, especially in the winter months where seeds and grass might be sparse or buried in snow.
The nooks and crannies between the foundation and the soil underneath provides a phenomenal breeding ground for insects that these mice love to eat.
How to Identify The Mouse is Doing the Damage
While mice might be a little bit harder to identify, if you pay close enough attention you’ll be able to spot them wandering around your home and yard, especially at night.
Chances are if there are mice in your home, they are under your foundation as well.
Look for telltale signs such as small round droppings, chewed pieces of wood or plastic, and scurrying sounds in the basement and ceiling.
Problems Mice can Create & Preventing Damage
While it’s not very common for them to do so, mice can indeed chew concrete if it’s already cracked or loose.
They can’t do an overwhelming amount of damage just by chewing to a concrete foundation, but just as with moles, if the dirt settles into the tunnels they’ve made the foundation may sink or crack.
If it’s cracked and small pieces are coming off of it, they can and will chew on those pieces in the hopes of getting another meal.
The best way to prevent a mouse infestation without harming the environment is to get a cat. Mice will naturally gravitate away from the areas in which a cat may live and this is a safe way to repel mice without using methods that harm the environment.
Mouse traps also work, although if you have a larger infestation it might be more beneficial to call a pest control company to remove them.
Just like mice, rats are very ravenous creatures that will do just about anything if it means they get some food. Rats are much bigger than mice meaning they are far more efficient diggers and they can very easily get under a foundation to seek shelter or food.
If food is extra scarce, the rats may even eat mice that are already living under the foundation.
How to Identify The Rat is Doing the Damage
Similarly to mice, you have to keep an eye out for signs that rats are in your area. If they are under your home, they are more than likely elsewhere near you and you’ll be able to hear them if you listen closely at night.
You also might find wires chewed through, garbage bags with holes in them if they are stored outside and even hoses or pipes that have been chewed through.
Problems Rats can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
Rats are able to chew through concrete if it’s already damaged enough. If they can access corners, rough edges or even cracks in the foundation, they can exacerbate these issues and make the problem far worse than it would’ve been without them.
Additionally, as with the animals listed above, water damage and soil settling can also cause serious problems if there are tunnels left by the rats under the home.
The best way to get rid of rats damaging your concrete foundation is by using rat poison or calling an exterminator.
Be mindful, however, that using poison can affect other animals and even pets that live in the area, so if possible the best course of action would be to hire a professional to remove them without poison.
The most common reason that a groundhog will dig under foundation is for hibernation purposes. As we’ve covered farther up in the article, foundations make a great shield from weather elements and can keep an area safe from predators if they can’t dig to reach the prey.
Groundhogs may raise their young under foundation, and in the winter they may be found hibernating under the foundation.
Groundhogs are extremely excellent at burrowing, so they may even go several feet below your foundation.
How to Identify The Groundhog is Doing the Damage
Similarly to moles, you may find mounds of dirt that pop up around the perimeter of your home. These are usually the entrance tunnels for the groundhogs, and can be a sure fire way to tell that they are living under your home.
You may also see them wandering about during the summer months, although during the winter months they are virtually undetectable.
Problems Groundhogs can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
While they can’t specifically chew through concrete, groundhogs can still do quite a bit of damage to a foundation. The biggest problem is when the large tunnels leave chunks of foundation unsupported by dirt.
If this happens, the concrete could potentially crack and become unable to support the home properly.
Additionally, water can seep in through the tunnels that can further water damage the foundation.
Live traps are the best way to capture these animals and by far the most efficient especially when done in the summer months.
You can either trap them yourself, or hire a professional who can release them in a much more ideal location.
Gophers will generally dig under foundation and use those deep tunnels as food storage or living space because it’s protected from the elements.
If your foundation isn’t very thick, they may also use those tunnels to forage for plant roots and other edible items.
Generally speaking however, they prefer thicker foundations as they provide more protection for both of themselves and their young.
How to Identify The Gopher is Doing the Damage
Generally, gophers leave behind large tunnels that don’t have large mounds of dirt on the outside. An area that has a large gopher infestation may look like Swiss cheese, as the entrances and exits of the tunnels will vary in size quite significantly.
They don’t hibernate, so these tunnels will pop up year-round unlike with other animals.
Problems Gophers can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
Gophers are not capable of chewing through concrete, although they can still do damage.
The most common problem with gophers burrowing under foundation is water damage, which can be especially problematic when they burrow during the winter months.
The best way to prevent damage is to build a barrier under your foundation. Whether this be during a maintenance session or when building the home, if you live in a gopher prone area it is best to try and box in your foundation where possible.
If this is not an option or your home has already been built, regular pest control is the best way to remove gophers.
Skunks are likely to dig shallow holes under foundation while searching for food, such as insects that like to live directly under the foundation.
Deeper burrows may often be used for sleeping and raising young, and will often affect your foundation more so than the shallow foraging holes.
The deeper boroughs are often larger and wider than the shallow variety, which ultimately can cause even more damage.
How to Identify The Skunk is Doing the Damage
As a general rule, a skunk will leave a combination of both small and large tunnels in your yard and under your foundation.
In addition to the difference in sizes, a skunk burrow will often have small white hairs that the animal leaves behind, and this can be a very strong and reliable indicator of what lives in the burrow.
Lastly, if a skunk is near your home you will be able to smell the odor, even if it has not sprayed any animals recently.
Problems Skunks can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
Skunks are unable to chew directly through concrete, however it is possible for them to leave the foundation unsupported. If this is the case, water can seep in and not only damage the foundation, but cause it to sink and sway.
Additionally, the pungent odor of skunk can easily make its way through the foundation and into your home.
It is best to leave trapping skunks up to a professional wildlife removal company. They are carriers of rabies and getting sprayed by a skunk is rather unpleasant, however a professional will have the ability to trap them safely.
It is very difficult to prevent them from digging, so removing them is really the only feasible option.
Raccoons are likely to dig under foundation if there are no other suitable trees or locations for them to build nests.
Additionally, they can smell overturned earth if it’s a fresh foundation and this gives them the illusion that there is a higher quality food source under the foundation.
if there are no trees available for a raccoon to nest in, they will burrow under the foundation for safety and protection from the elements, and there may often be more than one living under the concrete.
How to Identify The Raccoon is Doing the Damage
Raccoons are likely to leave fairly large burrows although they are dug deep enough that you can’t see into them.
Similarly to skunks, they may also leave large chunks of gray or black hair as they squeeze into the tunnels, as the tunnels are often narrow enough for them to just barely fit through.
Lastly, you may see them wandering around your yard in the evening and after dark, as this is when they are most active.
Problems Raccoons can Create to Foundation & Preventing Damage
As with most of the animals on this list, raccoons cannot chew directly through concrete. They will however, dig their tunnels directly under it to use it as protection, and this can still cause some serious damage especially in the winter.
As with any animals that dig under foundation, raccoon tunnels and nests can leave a great space for water to get in and damage your foundation, as well as settling dirt.
The best way to eliminate raccoons is to remove any and all food sources that you can find, including pet food, garbage cans, and even compost bins.
Using lights and radio frequencies can also deter them, although this is not a fail safe. As with anything, a pest control professional should be able to remove them safely and easily should the previously mentioned methods not work as expected.