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Burrowing Rodents

Clethrionomys Glareolus Bank

A number of rodents burrow underground to build nests and shelters. These rodents can cause quite a lot of damage to lawns and gardens, as well as commercial crops.

Burrowing rodents are primarily herbivores, so they will feed on the roots and tender new growth of plants. Some will attack the root systems from underground, while others will gather food on the surface and then return to their dens. Burrowing rodents are capable of building elaborate tunnel systems underground, which compromise the structural integrity of the land above.

The most well known burrowing rodents are the gopher, the chipmunk and the vole. There are a few mice species that build their nests underground, as well. Gophers are solitary and will live alone underground, digging extensive tunnels deep in the soil. They will remain in these tunnels during the heat of the mid-day and will emerge in the mornings and evenings to forage. Gophers will mate and then return to their solitary existences, so infestations of these rodents is rare.

Chipmunks, similarly to gophers, create tunnels underground and will also build nests, where they will have litters of young. Chipmunks feed on plants and seeds, and can become nuisances with their digging habits.

Voles are very difficult to control. They are prolific breeders and, unlike other burrowing rodents, voles feed day and night, so they are capable of greater consumption and destruction. Voles also eat saplings and bark.

Identification of these burrowing pests is easily done through the mounds of dirt that they leave at the entrance of their burrows. Chipmunks scatter the dirt they remove by carrying it in their cheeks away from their burrow entrances. This deters predators. Gophers will leave a fan-shaped pile of dirt at the entrances to their underground homes. Vole burrows are recognizable by the small mounds of dirt left behind in a map-like pattern above ground.

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