How To Prevent Armadillos Digging Holes in Your Backyard

Armadillos are found all over South America, but they’ve so far spread as far north as Nebraska and Indiana. Because of the lack of natural predators, they’re known to invade yards, and people often wonder whether armadillos dig holes in yards.

Although they’re not the most common pest, armadillos can build burrows in yards. Read on to learn all about armadillos, their burrowing habits, habitats, and how to prevent them from digging around your yard!

Identifying Armadillos Holes in Yards and Gardens

Armadillos are much more mobile than people think. Their mobility extends to burrowing behavior and they’re even capable of walking underwater for a short amount of time. 

What Attracts Armadillos to Your Yard?

There are two main reasons an armadillo would build its burrow in your yard. Firstly, the soil is good! It’s easier to dig through well-watered soil than through hard soil in dry, arid areas.

Since armadillos aren’t as nearly as scared of people compared to some other animals, it’s possible that an armadillo won’t mind being close to you if it gets to build a burrow easily.

Secondly, your yard might be rich in food. Armadillos eat insects, particularly ants as well as some invertebrates such as earthworms. If your yard is rich with such tiny animals, it’s the perfect habitat for an armadillo.

What Do Armadillo Holes and Burrows Look Like?

There’s not a specific look to their holes. It’s found that they’re often dug beneath plants so they have at least some coverage. The entrance to the burrow is normally not wider than 10 inches. 

If there’s free space beneath your porch, it’s possible that an armadillo will just use that instead of building a burrow.

How Deep Is an Armadillo Den?

Not every armadillo den is the same, but they can be up to 5 feet deep. The tunnels inside can range up to 24 feet in length, while a single armadillo can have more than 5 dens.

When Do Armadillos Dig Holes?

Armadillos need their holes throughout the entire year. Their habits don’t differ drastically from winter to summer, and they spend a lot of time in their holes every day.

When threatened by a predator or by the elements (floods, for example), armadillos will leave their holes and find another habitat to settle. They essentially dig holes whenever they need to.

Why Do Armadillos Dig Holes in Backyards?

Aside from the fact that your yard is basically an armadillo pantry with soil that’s easy to plow, it probably lacks predators too.

Actually, the most contributing factor to armadillos spreading around North America is the fact that there are very few natural predators here.

On top of that, these animals can sleep up to 16 hours a day, and doing this in the safety of their burrow is the safest option. They also retreat to their burrows at the first sight of danger, and they’re even known to cohabit with other animals in their burrows.

Armadillos do not hibernate during the winter, but they can’t tolerate temperatures that are too high either. They’re known to stay in the burrow for days at a time to avoid very hot or frigid days.

Since they don’t store food, they can die from starvation in their burrows.

Where Do Armadillos Burrow

Aside from armadillos making holes in your yard, here are a few areas armadillos seemingly prefer as their home base.

1. Brush Piles

To minimize the chances of their burrow being invaded by a predator, armadillos like building their burrows beneath the cover. The more cover the better, and large brush piles are ideal spots for the entry hole.

They’ll often build them under buildings and fallen logs, but also clumps of living and rotting vegetation.

Large physical obstacles such as brush piles also minimize the amount of rain that gets into the burrow.

2. Woodland

Aside from the aforementioned brush piles, there are plenty of covers for armadillo holes in woodlands. Leaf piles, for example, are often found above armadillo holes.

A characteristic of armadillo holes is that they’re not close to water sources. Armadillos aren’t very dependent on water for survival, and there’s no reason for them to stay close to water and risk flooding.

Woodland soil is often very easy to dig through, so armadillos don’t have a problem building large burrows.

3. Under Rock Piles

Rock piles, and rocks in general, are useful to armadillos for the same reason brush piles are – they provide cover. Rock piles can prevent water from getting in, and this is very important because flooding is one of the biggest dangers that burrowing animals face.

4. Around Tree Stumps

The soil around tree stumps is easy to dig through, but there’s another reason they stay close to trees. Armadillos don’t necessarily have to dig a burrow – if they feel that the area around them is safe enough, they’ll build a simple nest.

This nest is very often built under a tree or a tree stump that provides some protection, and they’re usually built with dry grass. Cumberland Island, for example, hosts 75% of armadillo dens beneath palmetto plants, according to the University of Georgia.

5. In Moist Soil

It’s easy to see why armadillos like moist soil – it’s easy to dig through and set up a burrow. This isn’t the only reason, as moist soil is usually home to more organisms than dry soil.

It is a better habitat for them in every imaginable way.

How to Prevent Armadillos Digging Holes

These pests are not exactly and not everyone is up for learning how to trap an armadillo. Thankfully, they can be surprisingly easy to deter.

1. Clean Garden Waste

Garden waste, be it organic or inorganic, attracts other animals, especially ants, which are nature’s cleaners. They just so happen to be the favorite food of an armadillo, which is why a clean garden is less likely to attract armadillos.

So, while garden waste doesn’t attract armadillos, it attracts common armadillo prey.

2. Cut Back and Clear Brush

Brush in your yard provides armadillos with great cover for their home base. As we’ve seen from the examples below, they prefer not to dig a burrow in the middle of an open field. Turning your yard into exactly that lowers the chances of an armadillo establishing a burrow in your yard.

3. Build a Deep Fence

While armadillos are surprisingly good climbers, they won’t be able to climb a fence. What’s even more important, however, is to dig that fence at least a foot into the soil (while even more would be better).

Since they’re such good diggers, they can easily dig below a fence if you don’t do this. A lot of people refrain from this because fences aren’t cheap, but it’s truly the best solution.

4. Deter the Armadillo with Strong Scents

Armadillos don’t see very well – because of this, they have to rely on their strong sense of scent when hunting. You can use this to your advantage by overloading their senses:  

Plants with strong scents, such as lavender, might do the trick. Alternatively, you can spread a vinegar mixture around your yard or even use mothballs (although you have to be extremely careful with those) to deter them.

Either way, armadillos don’t want to stay in an area where they’re disoriented.

5. Introduce a Predator

By predator – we mean a dog. An armadillo definitely won’t live in a yard that has a dog because it’ll fear for its life, and it can only wander into your yard by accident.

While you should avoid a confrontation between your dog and an armadillo if possible, they’re actually not dangerous animals, and the chance of an armadillo hurting you or your dog is minimal.

Removing or Filling In Armadillo Burrows

So, what do you do now that you finally got that pesky ‘Dillo out of your yard?

To fill the burrow, firstly close the entrance and do nothing more than that. If the armadillo doesn’t return to the burrow within a few days, you can rest assured that you got rid of it once and for all.

After that, feel free to fill the hole completely with soil and a bit of gravel.

FAQ Armadillo Holes in Yard

Verdict: Armadillos Holes in Yard

Armadillos are known to dig burrows in good soil, which often happens to be found in your yard. They prefer well-watered, moist soil that’s easy to dig through. The entrance holes can be found below trees, bushes, and rock piles that they use as protection.

Despite their impressive digging abilities, armadillos are actually easy to get rid of. You can deter them with very strong scents by eliminating the food in your yard.