Holes in the ground

http://web.blomand.net/~dennmac/hole.jpg
The past few weeks I've noticed several small holes that are about 2 inches wide appear in my back yard like the above example. I've been at this location for six years and this is the first time I've seen a bunch of small holes like this, which is odd. I live at the foot of a mountain and have had a running problem with moles, but currently there are no active mole tunnels and I don't think moles are doing this. I tried filling all the ones I could see up with dirt about a week ago but the holes were back very soon.
By chance I overheard some people talking in a local store about small holes in the ground yesterday and one guy said the only thing he knew that would cause a hole like this are snakes, but I haven't seen any snakes in this area yet. The holes are in close proximity to my sunflower seed bird feeder which is mounted on a 6 foot steel pole for what that's worth.
Any ideas what could be causing these holes? Thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@dennism3.invalid (Dennis M) writes:

I get holes like that too. Central New Jersey.
My best guess is Skunk. Looks to me like an animal digging for grubs.
--
Dan Espen

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Well I certainly have grubs too, that's why the moles hang out there. They've both turned the backyard into a bumpy mess.
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On May 18, 7:55 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dennism3.invalid (Dennis M) wrote:

Clue #1: Where's the dirt that came out of the hole? A squirrel, chipmonk, or other top dwellers would leave the dirt near the hole. A snake will move loose surface dirt to get under something (i.e. a mostly horizontal hole) but they're not going to dig a verticle hole out in the open like that one in the pic.
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In article

There is no dirt surrounding the holes. I'm pretty sure there's a network of tunnels under the ground caused by moles, I remember when I tried to fill them up with dirt I'd stick my fingers in and I could reach horizontally in some directions as far as my fingers would go (probably not a good idea if it's snakes doing this).
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On 5/18/2012 10:16 PM, Dennis M wrote:

Chipmunks make nice clean holes like that and they lead to chambers and other exit holes.
nancy
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snipped-for-privacy@nospamverizon.net wrote:

I wouldn't have thought those holes were big enough for a chipmunk to fit inside though, maybe they're smaller than I remember because I don't recall seeing any around lately.
But that would make sense because of the seeds dropped by birds nearby.
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I have holes just like in the picture. They go down about 2 inches with no tunnels going anywhere.
We have lots of chipmunks but I'm outside all summer and I've never observed one being dug.
We have other holes that are plainly chipmunk tunnels. Almost always next to a root or rock so they can tunnel under something solid.
We have lots of raccoons and skunks. So since I don't see them in action, I blame one of them.
--
Dan Espen

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Dennis M wrote:

Snakes have no means of digging. They may use holes dug by others but there are no snake excavators.
D
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Looks like a vole hole to me... they're critters similar to mice, and they tend to make these flat holes that are (depending on species) 1-2" or so. Other possibilities include crawdads and chipmunks, as well as a number of other species. Depends on where you live, but a call to the local extension service or master gardeners will usually get you a list of local probabilities.
Gophers typically dig a mound with the hole off to one side and a fan of bare, dug up soil around it... sort of like an off-center egg yolk in a fried egg. Moles make volcanoes with the hole in the middle. Voles do the very flat holes, usually 1-maybe 2" in diameter, depending on species and local erosion.
Kay
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Voles sound like a good possibility. I've heard of them, and the pellets I buy sometimes to fight moles also say they can take care of voles. When the moles really get bad I'll usually wrap the pellets up in chewing gum to make them more palatable to them, that's a lot cheaper than buying that "worm-like" poison.
I really don't mind these holes as much as the mess that moles can make. Maybe the voles can drive the moles away, lol.
Still kind of strange that I'd start seeing vole holes all of a sudden after being here six years, maybe there's just a bumper crop of them this year.
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Voles are also known as meadow mice or field mice, and look pretty mouse-ish. Short ears. They go through boom and bust population cycles (like most small mammals) and you're probably in a boom year now... about 7 years is a typical small mammal boom and bust cycle. You'll probably have a lot of happy owls, coyotes, cats, etc. with full bellies. <g>
If you see a lot of plantings that look like you've got root disturbance going on, pull any loose mulch away from them and you'll probably get the voles to go elsewhere.
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On May 19, 6:49 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dennism3.invalid (Dennis M) wrote:

Look at other posts in this group about getting grass to grow. You'll usually see a response about renting an aerator to make holes similar to the ones you have. It allows air to reach down into the soil and makes plants healthy. So if the holes you have are not causing you a problem consider them a benefit.
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On 5/20/12 6:14 PM, Red wrote:

Aerators make holes about 1/2 inch in diameter. The original message in this thread indicated holes about 2 inches in diameter, which can be a hazard to an unwary person walking across the lawn.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On Sun, 20 May 2012 23:06:20 -0700, "David E. Ross"

And if voles they are far more destructive than moles... mole tunneling is merely unsightly but they do the benefit of eating grubs... however voles eat plant roots leaving death in their wake. The reason there's no mound of excavated earth at those holes is because they are very likely exit holes, their entrance holes could be many yards away, maybe under a large rock or shrub. If you begin to notice dying plants and dead patches of lawn you have voles. I didn't notice any lawn around those holes, just bare earth and sparse weeds, very likely not a gardener living there, just someone curious about the holes but in all likelyhood will do nothing about them.
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<Gravesend1> wrote:

No I'll admit I'm not a gardener, the only thing they could destroy (besides grass) is a few huge shrubs or a rose bush several feet away and I'm not too worried about that. I'm not anal about having a perfect backyard especially since there's nothing behind me but a huge mountain, I was just curious about what was causing these holes.
There must be some serious chambers beneath the holes though, I tried pouring several gallons of water down a few of them and never could fill them up. I finally gave up because I didn't want to jack up the water bill.
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