Raccoon and Their Digging Behavior (Explained)

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Published on February 5, 2022
Last Updated on October 14, 2023

Raccoons are fascinating creatures in that they are quite purposeful in their actions, including digging holes. Raccoons also don’t enjoy challenging themselves when it comes to finding areas to rest or searching for food.

When raccoons are done fulfilling their needs, they aren’t concerned with any destruction they leave in their wake. They’ve got no scruples in digging up your yard. 

This can be observed in the way raccoons dig, whether it’s to build a den or a nest, or whether they are looking to create a burrow to rest in. Where you might catch a raccoon exhibiting this behavior will depend on a couple of factors; where the closest food source is, and where they can keep warm. 

The Raccoon’s Digging Behavior

Raccoons have very strong, agile hands that help them dig with ease. They will usually only dig for a specific purpose, which is typically food. Raccoons will typically only dig for food if necessary, being that they prefer food sources that require the least amount of effort to grab

Being that raccoons will typically venture out to look for food in the dark, they will use this concealment to dig. This also helps them avoid being detected and chased away. Thus, many landowners will wake up to several small holes scattered throughout their property. This is a good sign a raccoon came to visit the previous night. 

Do Raccoons Burrow or Dig Holes?

Raccoons will usually only dig holes to either search for food or help them get around. Raccoons are excellent climbers, so they’ll usually only dig big holes to help them get under something they cannot climb, such as certain types of fences. 

If a raccoon is having trouble finding a warm tree to live in during the winter, they might also burrow themselves underground in order to keep warm. These burrows are typically temporary measures for raccoons and are not their preferred headquarters. 

Raccoons will also sometimes take over burrows that have been dug up and later abandoned by other animals. Once again, they will usually only seek shelter in these burrows for a short amount of time. 

The Raccoon will usually change where they set up camp in order to avoid predators learning its location. Raccoons are able to eat a lot of different types of food and they aren’t picky, so they can adapt to new locations very easily. They can also find their way back to their nest easily. 

What Does A Raccoon Den Look Like?

A raccoon can create a den in a variety of places depending on what’s available, as well as what kind of environment they live in. They prefer to make their dens in hollowed-out tree trunks, so they can stay away from predators and stay warm. 

They also prefer establishing dens in trees that are in secluded areas, such as small forests or natural parks without a lot of development. They appreciate being near water as well so that they have plenty to drink and a lot of aquatic life to hunt. 

If a raccoon finds a hollowed tree or a fallen trunk that seems safe and secluded and has already been hollowed out by another animal, they will happily take it over. They will also usually bring leaves and other materials to the den in order to insulate it, as raccoons aren’t very happy when they’re cold. 

In colder weather, they might also create temporary dens by digging holes in the ground, but they don’t usually do this unless it’s absolutely necessary. They have also been known to seek out abandoned buildings and structures, as well as barns and sheds. 

Raccoons are also known to be able to break into homes, and can also access homes through small spaces such as crawl spaces, chimneys, and attics. They can also create homes underneath your decks and your porches, as well as in your storm drains or basements. 

This is one of the main reasons that wildlife experts advise people to avoid feeding raccoons, especially near their homes. They will associate your home with food, and will happily break-in when they are hungry. Your home is also very warm, which a raccoon will enjoy very much. 

Why Are Raccoons Digging Up My Yard?

The main reason that raccoons will dig up your yard is to eat anything they can find in those areas. While it’s less likely, they might also be searching for a warm area to rest up. 

If you have a garden where you grow any type of vegetation or crops, a raccoon that happily stumbles upon it will keep coming back, knowing that they will always find food. 

Raccoons Forage For Grubs, Insects, Roots, and Other Foods

Raccoons are very food motivated, and they will dig into the ground to pick up insects and grubs to eat. This can help control any pesky insects that are populous in your yard that might damage your lawn and garden, though as a result, a raccoon will end up doing its own unique type of damage. 

Raccoons adore eating all kinds of insects, larvae, and grubs, and they’re very stubborn when it comes to getting hold of them. If you notice your yard being dug up and the grass turned over in the morning, chances are that a raccoon has done it in order to get to an easy meal. Skunks have similar behavior, but the holes they dig are normally more precise.

How Do I Stop Raccoons From Digging On My Property?

The only way to permanently deter raccoons from digging up your property is to remove their food sources. You’ll have to apply nematodes that are able to target and get rid of the insects that live in your grass and soil. 

The fewer insects and grubs live on your land, the fewer raccoons will want to go digging. They don’t want to put in any effort digging for food if they aren’t going to get much of a reward. Some people have also found success with deterrents like sprinklers and ultrasonic repellers. 

You also want to be sure that you have garbage and compost bins that are easy to close and keep locked and are made with durable material specifically designed for keeping pests out. Furthermore, if you leave food out for your outdoor pets, take it inside before you go to bed. 

If you keep small livestock outside or grow any type of food in your gardens, you want to consider building a fence or enclosure that can keep a raccoon out. If you have fruit trees, it may be nearly impossible to keep a raccoon away, but at least their damage will be much less severe than it is after digging up your yard. 

If you’re tired of seeing your grass turned over every morning, there are a couple of things you can try:

  • Try spraying a raccoon repellant like fox urine around your yard, the scent will keep them from hanging around!
  • Make it hard to get into your yard, and the coon just might not bother.
  • Try keeping the number of grubs down with a natural product like nematodes.
  • Cayenne pepper strewed around in the grass also might deter any raccoons from sniffing around!

What Do Holes Dug By Raccoons Look Like?

Most holes that raccoons dig aren’t very big and are somewhat shallow. They don’t dig deep because they’re usually searching for food, which tends to be just under the surface of the grass or topsoil they are digging through. 

Raccoons also make quite a big mess when they are digging, as they don’t have much of a concern for the condition in which they leave an area. Furthermore, they don’t try to hide the evidence that they were in the area. 

Will Raccoons Dig Under Fences or Dig Tunnels?

Raccoons will dig under fences or dig tunnels if they have no other way to get to their intended destination. Most raccoons will rely on their ability to climb to get from place to place. That being said, raccoons are very strong and skilled with their hands, so they can break apart hard surfaces if they are unable to dig.


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of Floofmania.com. I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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