Wild Animals/small, deep hole

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Question
We just put new siding on our barn office. It sits on a concrete slab.This hole was not there last week while we were working on the siding.Sometime in the past 2 days, (It has been raining heavy), something dug a hole, right next to our concrete slab. The hole is one and a half inches across. It went down more than the 34 inch stick I tried to measure depth with. I am wondering if something dug down to go under the concrete slab. There is just a small amount of soil along side of the hole, (like something kicked the dirt out there.) There are about 20 barn cats here and around my horse barn. Can't imagine what animal would have done this. The fact that it has been raining so hard could explain why the cats did not catch this animal digging. Any ideas what animal it would be? The temps have been ranging from 40-65 degrees F.

Answer
Dear Becky

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the websites I used.

http://icwdm.org/pages/GroundHoles.aspx#less shows pictures of various holes with a diameter of less than 3 inches. It may be best to print out the photos and compare them to the hole and see which hole is nearest. The fact it was raining heavily would have softened the soil. It seems that a rodent is the most likely culprit, but rat burrows tend to be shallower than the 34 inches indicated by the stick.http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_problems/hgic2364.html has similar information that may help.
http://extension.missouri.edu/p/g9440 gives detials about moles, but you haven't mentioned any ridges above ground, which seems to indicate that the animal isn't a mole.
http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wildlife/msg031441589920.html gives information about snakes, which can live in deep holes.
Please note that the hole may be deep as the animal was about to enter hgibernation.

I'm sorry I couldn't provide a definite identification of what made the hole, but I hope that the photos in the first website will help you reach a conclusion.

All the best

Jonathan  

Wild Animals

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Jonathan Wright

Expertise

I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.

Experience

I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

Organizations
WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Publications
Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

Education/Credentials
BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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