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#1
Old 09-25-2011, 09:49 PM
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Squirrel digging in my lawn - what was he finding?

This afternoon, I spotted a squirrel in the middle of my backyard frantically digging in my lawn, and occasionally stopping and finding something to eat (I also discovered why there were peanut shells in my garden - someone's feeding them and they're bringing them in to my yard to eat). We don't have acorns or anything like that here and the holes he was creating are only about the size of dime. What possible food source could that have been? Are there any plant roots that they eat?
#2
Old 09-25-2011, 09:49 PM
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He's looking for nuts that he buried earlier.
#3
Old 09-25-2011, 10:07 PM
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Beetle larvae or underground fungus would be my bet.
#4
Old 09-26-2011, 09:38 AM
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Grub infestation

In my neighborhood such behavior could mean white grubs eating the roots of your lawn. That's the first sign and maybe you have a chance of saving the lawn by applying a grub killer. Otherwise, you will be replacing the entire lawn if grubs are the issue.
#5
Old 09-26-2011, 10:24 AM
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Who knows. Squirrels dig to bury things like acorns as often as they dig them back up.
#6
Old 09-26-2011, 10:28 AM
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[David Letterman]He's preparing his nuts for winter.[/letterman]
#7
Old 09-26-2011, 10:37 AM
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When squirrels can't find acorns, they'll eat just about anything, starting with insects and worms. One of my colleagues saw a squirrel in her yard catch and eat a small bird during last winter's blizzard.
#8
Old 09-26-2011, 08:49 PM
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I've been watching squirrels for years. This squirrel is digging up nuts he buried before and/or nuts buried by other squirrels. They cannot open hard shells (e.g. walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), so they bury them until the shell is weak enough to crack. They can't remember every nut they buried but can smell them through the shallow holes they covered. I suspect that some nuts leave enough of an aroma behind after being dug up, that the squirrel may dig in that spot again which would explain why your critter doesn't always find food after digging. I have read that animals can smell dead bodies (like birds and such) even if covered with a couple of feet of dirt. This is why people are buried "six feet under". Squirrels will definitely scavange other dead critters for food but it is not a staple of their diet and I've never seen them engage in hunting behavior.
#9
Old 09-26-2011, 09:23 PM
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Judging by what the sons a bitches do to my flower beds I would say some of the digging is due to pure orneriness.
#10
Old 09-26-2011, 09:48 PM
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They chisel off the hull of black walnuts at my place.
#11
Old 09-26-2011, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Cloud View Post
This squirrel is digging up nuts he buried before and/or nuts buried by other squirrels.
Since the OP indicates he doesn't have acorns or other nut trees around, this is unlikely in this particular case. Grubs or fungi are more likely.
#12
Old 09-26-2011, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Cloud View Post
They cannot open hard shells (e.g. walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.), so they bury them until the shell is weak enough to crack.
Having seen some of the parts of houses that squirrels can chew through (hardwoods, galvanized steel, etc.), I'm not sure there is a nut they can't crack. According to this study on rodent bite force (pdf), gray squirrels weighed in with a raw bite force of up to 22,000 psi. As a point of reference, a strong human bite has a force of about 150 psi.
#13
Old 09-27-2011, 01:11 AM
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Okay- all my squirrels are urban guys (NYC)- maybe those country squirrels are tougher. The ones here will search for any little crack in a hard nut shell and pry off the shell, but if they can't find a crack, they bury it and move on to an easier lunch.
#14
Old 09-27-2011, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Cloud View Post
Okay- all my squirrels are urban guys (NYC)- maybe those country squirrels are tougher. The ones here will search for any little crack in a hard nut shell and pry off the shell, but if they can't find a crack, they bury it and move on to an easier lunch.
It might be that those are the ones they know will stay good until winter, but the cracked ones should be eaten right away. If faced with anything their sheer biting force can't handle, they just bring out the almost unstoppable 'nibbling force'. Little by little they can chew through almost anything. But I don't argue they are likely to go for the easier meal every time if there is an abundant supply.
#15
Old 09-27-2011, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Cloud View Post
Squirrels will definitely scavange other dead critters for food but it is not a staple of their diet and I've never seen them engage in hunting behavior.
In Russia on the other hand...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BBC
Russian squirrel pack 'kills dog'

Squirrels have bitten to death a stray dog which was barking at them in a Russian park, local media report.

Passers-by were too late to stop the attack by the black squirrels in a village in the far east, which reportedly lasted about a minute.

They are said to have scampered off at the sight of humans, some carrying pieces of flesh.
#16
Old 09-27-2011, 01:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyhorse View Post
If faced with anything their sheer biting force can't handle, they just bring out the almost unstoppable 'nibbling force'. Little by little they can chew through almost anything.
Off-topic, but squirrels once got into my father-in-law's attic and then nibbled through his bathroom wall. He was taking a shower one morning when a squirrel literally poked his head through and looked at him.
#17
Old 09-27-2011, 01:30 PM
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I find a grub problem is telegraphed better by moles than squirrels. If you have mole tunnels, start the grub treatment.
#18
Old 09-27-2011, 08:39 PM
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Squirrels don't "crack" nuts. They chisel them open with their incisors.
#19
Old 09-27-2011, 10:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aquachigger View Post
Squirrels don't "crack" nuts. They chisel them open with their incisors.
I said that, gol dang it!
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