Why Do Prairie Dogs Dig Holes?

Prairie dogs occupy about two million acres of land in North America. They live in large colonies called towns where several families build a shared burrow system to take shelter and raise young.

Prairie dog tunnels created by a single family may extend over an entire acre, while a town can span as many as 1,000 acres.

Damage to Yards

Because the animals dig up to 50 burrow entrances per acre, they quickly cause problems. Not only do prairie dog holes ruin the look of lawns, but they also cause soil to collapse, harming livestock and damaging mowers.

Rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, and other harmful pests may also live in abandoned burrows.

Identifying Prairie Dog Tunnels

Several factors can distinguish prairie dog holes from those created by moles, another common burrowing pest:


The animals dig tunnels three to six feet deep and four to eight inches in diameter. Mole burrows tend to be smaller at only about two inches across.


A crater- or dome-shaped mound often marks the entrance to a prairie dog hole. These measure up to two feet tall and ten feet across. Mole hills tend to be smaller at about five inches in diameter.

Pest Sightings

It's easy to observe prairie dogs sitting on mounds during the day when they are most active. Many other common burrowing pests, such as moles, rarely spend time above ground.


Setting up special fences or visual barriers may help to prevent problems with prairie dog tunnels naturally. For a more proactive approach, property owners can set double-door wire traps, flush burrows with soapy water, or hire special vacuum trucks to remove the pests.

Unfortunately, all of these methods tend to get costly and time consuming without guaranteed results. The best bet to stopping prairie dogs from digging holes in the yard is to contact a Critter Control wildlife specialist.

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