burrowing animals in texas

Types of Burrowing Animals in Texas

Texas is home to a variety of burrowing animals that play an important role in the state’s wildlife population. These animals have adapted to their underground habitats, using their digging skills to create burrows that provide shelter, protection, and even food storage. From small rodents to large mammals, these burrowing animals contribute to the diversity and balance of Texas wildlife.

  • Burrowing animals in Texas include white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, desert bighorn sheep, collared peccary (javelina), eastern fox squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, badger, beaver, mice, voles, rats, kangaroo rats, squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, pocket gophers, muskrats, and American beavers.
  • These animals have different habitats, diets, and behaviors, but they all play a role in the ecosystem of Texas.
  • The burrows created by these animals provide shelter, protection, and food storage, helping them survive in their environment.
  • Some burrowing animals, like badgers and gophers, are excellent diggers and contribute to soil aeration and nutrient cycling.
  • Beavers and muskrats, on the other hand, are aquatic burrowers that create complex systems of burrows and dams, shaping water ecosystems.

Armadillos: Masters of Burrowing

Armadillos, known for their armored shells and impressive burrowing skills, are a common sight in Texas. These unique creatures have adapted to their environment and have become masters of underground living.

Armadillos are equipped with strong claws that enable them to dig deep burrows in search of food and shelter. They primarily feed on insects, such as ants and termites, which they locate underground. Their powerful sense of smell helps them detect their prey even in the darkness of the tunnels.

These burrows not only provide protection from predators but also serve as a safe space for armadillos to rest and give birth to their young. The burrows are usually located in areas with dense vegetation, providing the armadillos with cover and a source of food.

armadillos in Texas

ArmadillosWoodlands, grasslands, and scrub areasInsects, small vertebrates, fruit, and plantsNocturnal, solitary, and territorial
“Armadillos are fascinating creatures that have adapted to thrive in the diverse Texas landscape. Their burrowing skills not only help them find food, but also contribute to the ecosystem by aerating the soil and creating habitats for other animals. They are a true symbol of the Lone Star State’s rich wildlife.” – Texas Wildlife Conservation Society

Gophers and Pocket Gophers: Underground Tunnellers

Gophers and pocket gophers are expert tunnellers that shape the underground landscape of Texas. These small rodents have a remarkable ability to dig extensive networks of tunnels, creating intricate burrow systems beneath the surface.

Found throughout the state, gophers and pocket gophers are known for their burrowing habits, which serve multiple purposes. These underground dwellers create complex tunnels that provide them with shelter from predators and protection from harsh weather conditions. Their burrows also serve as a means of accessing food sources, as they forage for roots, tubers, and bulbs underground.

One fascinating aspect of gopher and pocket gopher behavior is their ability to create mounds of soil above their burrows. These mounds, often referred to as “push-up” mounds, are formed as the rodents excavate their tunnels and deposit the soil on the surface. These distinctive mounds are a common sight in areas where gophers and pocket gophers are present, and they contribute to the unique geography of Texas.

burrowing animals in Texas

The impact of gophers and pocket gophers on the Texas ecosystem is significant. Their burrowing activities help aerate the soil, promoting plant growth and nutrient cycling. Additionally, the tunnels they create serve as channels for water infiltration, reducing the risk of soil erosion. These underground tunnellers play an essential role in maintaining the balance of Texas’ natural habitats.

GophersPocket Gophers
Gophers are small, burrowing rodents with stout bodies and large front teeth.Pocket gophers are similar in appearance to gophers but have external fur-lined cheek pouches.
Gophers are primarily herbivorous, feeding on vegetation such as roots, bulbs, and tubers.Pocket gophers have a similar diet to gophers, but they also consume earthworms and insects.
Gophers are solitary animals, only coming together during the breeding season.Pocket gophers are also solitary, with males and females only interacting for mating purposes.

As we explore the world beneath our feet, it becomes evident that gophers and pocket gophers are not only fascinating creatures but also vital contributors to the diverse wildlife of Texas. Their burrowing skills shape the underground landscape of the state, leaving a lasting impact on the ecosystem.

Squirrels: Above and Below Ground

Texas is teeming with squirrel species, both above and below the ground. These agile and adaptable creatures are a common sight in parks, forests, and even urban neighborhoods. While most people associate squirrels with trees, many species also have a talent for burrowing.

burrowing squirrels in Texas

Eastern fox squirrels and eastern gray squirrels are two of the most prevalent squirrel species in Texas. They have a remarkable ability to burrow and construct intricate underground networks. These burrows serve as shelter and protection from predators, as well as a place to store food. The squirrels’ burrowing habits also play a crucial role in aerating the soil and dispersing plant seeds, contributing to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Aside from their burrowing activities, squirrels are known for their acrobatic tree-climbing skills. They are adept jumpers and can traverse tree branches with remarkable agility. This dual ability to navigate both above and below ground allows squirrels to find food sources in various habitats and adapt to changing environmental conditions.

The Importance of Squirrels in Texas

Squirrels play a vital role in Texas’ wildlife population and ecosystem. Their burrowing activities not only benefit themselves but also create nesting sites for other animals such as rabbits, skunks, and reptiles. Additionally, squirrels contribute to forest regeneration by unintentionally planting tree seeds as they bury acorns and other nuts.

Squirrel SpeciesHabitatDiet
Eastern Fox SquirrelWoodlands, forests, urban areasNuts, seeds, berries
Eastern Gray SquirrelWoodlands, forests, urban areasNuts, seeds, fruits

Overall, the presence of squirrels in Texas is a testament to the state’s diverse wildlife and thriving ecosystem. Their ability to navigate both above and below ground means they can adapt to various environments, making them a valuable and fascinating part of Texas’ animal kingdom.

Badgers: Texas’ Fierce Diggers

With their powerful claws and relentless digging, badgers are formidable burrowers in the Texas wilderness. These medium-sized mammals are known for their distinctive black and white markings and strong build, making them perfectly adapted for a life underground. Badgers are primarily solitary creatures, preferring to live in extensive burrow systems called setts.

In Texas, the American badger (Taxidea taxus) is the most commonly found species. They are known for their excellent digging skills, capable of creating burrows that can be up to 30 feet long and 10 feet deep! These burrows provide shelter and protection for badgers, allowing them to escape extreme weather conditions and predators.

Texas Badger

Badgers are opportunistic predators, with their diet mainly consisting of small mammals such as mice, voles, and rats. Their digging abilities play a crucial role in their hunting strategy, as they are able to excavate burrows and flush out their prey. By controlling rodent populations, badgers help maintain the balance of the ecosystem in Texas.

HabitatGrasslands, deserts, and open areas
DietSmall mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
BehaviorNocturnal, solitary, and territorial

Badgers are fascinating creatures that contribute to the rich wildlife of Texas. Their ability to dig extensive burrow systems and control rodent populations makes them an important part of the ecosystem. If you ever come across a badger in the Texas wilderness, remember to admire them from a safe distance and appreciate their vital role in the natural world.

Beavers and Muskrats: Aquatic Burrowers

Beavers and muskrats are skilled burrowers that thrive in Texas’ aquatic habitats. These fascinating creatures have unique adaptations that allow them to create complex burrow systems in rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Beavers, the largest rodents in North America, are known for their ability to modify their environment to create dams and lodges. Their burrows, called dens, are typically located in the banks of water bodies. Beavers use their powerful front teeth to fell trees and construct dams, which create deep ponds that provide protection and access to food. Their dens have underwater entrances, allowing them to swim directly into their burrows.

Muskrats, on the other hand, are smaller in size but equally adept at burrowing. They construct burrows, known as push-ups, which consist of a central den chamber with multiple entrances. These burrows are often located in marshy areas along the edges of water bodies. Muskrats use their sharp claws and front teeth to dig burrows and create a network of tunnels for foraging and escaping from predators.

Beavers and Muskrats in Texas

Beavers and muskrats play a crucial role in the ecosystem of Texas. Their burrowing activities help maintain the health of aquatic habitats by creating and improving wetlands and regulating water flow. The dams constructed by beavers act as natural water filters, trapping sediment and pollutants and creating cleaner water for other wildlife. These aquatic burrowers also provide shelter and nesting sites for various species of fish, birds, and reptiles.

A Complete Table of Aquatic Burrowers in Texas

BeaversRivers, lakes, pondsBark, twigs, leaves
MuskratsMarshes, wetlandsAquatic plants, roots, stems

As we explore the diverse wildlife in Texas, it’s important to appreciate the essential role that beavers and muskrats play in maintaining the delicate balance of our aquatic ecosystems. These burrowing animals are not only fascinating to observe but also contribute significantly to the health and well-being of Texas’ natural environment.

Deer, Antelope, and Sheep: Unexpected Burrowers

While not commonly associated with burrowing, deer, antelope, and sheep in Texas have some surprising underground habits. These animals, known for their grace and agility on land, also possess the ability to excavate burrows for various purposes. Let’s take a closer look at these unexpected burrowers and their fascinating behaviors.

White-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and desert bighorn sheep have been observed creating burrows in certain situations. These burrows serve as shelters and provide protection against extreme weather conditions and predators. By digging these underground dens, these animals create safe havens for themselves and their offspring.

burrowing animals in Texas

It is important to note that these burrows are not as elaborate or extensive as those created by traditional burrowing animals like rodents or armadillos. They are relatively simple excavations, often located in areas with adequate soil composition and drainage. These underground structures generally consist of a single chamber or a small network of interconnected tunnels.

Despite their unexpected burrowing behaviors, deer, antelope, and sheep primarily rely on their agility and speed to evade predators. The ability to create these burrows, even if infrequently used, showcases the resourcefulness and adaptability of these remarkable Texas wildlife species.

AnimalBurrowing Behavior
White-tailed DeerSimple underground dens for shelter and protection.
Mule DeerOccasionally excavates burrows for shelter purposes.
Pronghorn AntelopeCreates shallow depressions in the ground for resting.
Desert Bighorn SheepMay dig burrows for shelter in rocky terrains.

Interesting Facts:

  • Deer, antelope, and sheep primarily rely on burrows for shelter during extreme weather conditions, such as storms or heatwaves.
  • These burrows are often temporary and not extensively used by these animals.
  • By occupying burrows, deer, antelope, and sheep can minimize their exposure to predators and increase their chances of survival.

While deer, antelope, and sheep are not the first animals that come to mind when thinking about burrowing, their unexpected underground behaviors add yet another layer of intrigue to the diverse wildlife of Texas.


The burrowing animals of Texas play a vital role in maintaining the state’s diverse ecosystems, showcasing the incredible adaptability and resilience of wildlife in the Lone Star State. From the underground tunnels of armadillos to the powerful digging abilities of badgers, these animals contribute to the balance of nature in numerous ways.

While some may be surprised to learn that white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, and desert bighorn sheep are also skilled burrowers, their ability to seek shelter in burrows highlights their resourcefulness in adapting to their surroundings. These animals, along with collared peccaries, eastern fox squirrels, eastern gray squirrels, and various species of rodents, contribute to the intricate web of life in Texas.

But it’s not just land-dwelling creatures that delve beneath the surface. Aquatic burrowers like beavers and muskrats play a crucial role in shaping the water ecosystems of Texas. By constructing dams and burrowing along riverbanks and lakeshores, they create habitats for themselves and other aquatic species.

Overall, the presence of these burrowing animals is a testament to the natural richness and diversity of Texas. By protecting and conserving their habitats, we can ensure the continuation of these fascinating creatures and the invaluable services they provide. Let’s cherish and appreciate the remarkable burrowers of Texas for generations to come.


What types of burrowing animals can be found in Texas?

There are several types of burrowing animals found in Texas, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, desert bighorn sheep, collared peccary (javelina), eastern fox squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, badger, beaver, mice, voles, rats, kangaroo rats, squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, pocket gophers, muskrats, and American beavers.

What role do these animals play in the ecosystem?

These animals have different habitats, diets, and behaviors, but they all play a role in the ecosystem of Texas. They contribute to the balance of nature by controlling populations of other animals, dispersing seeds, and creating burrows that provide shelter for themselves and other species.

Do burrowing animals cause any problems for humans?

While burrowing animals can sometimes cause damage to crops, gardens, and infrastructure, they also provide important ecological benefits. It is important to find a balance between protecting human interests and preserving the natural habitats and behaviors of these animals.

How deep do burrows made by these animals go?

The depth of burrows made by burrowing animals can vary depending on the species and their specific needs. Some burrows may only reach a few feet underground, while others can extend several feet or even yards deep.

Are these burrowing animals native to Texas?

Many of the burrowing animals found in Texas are native to the state, while others have been introduced or have expanded their range into Texas over time. These animals have adapted to the diverse ecosystems found in Texas and are an important part of the state’s wildlife.

Can burrowing animals be a nuisance in residential areas?

Burrowing animals can sometimes cause damage to lawns, gardens, and structures in residential areas. It is important to take measures to prevent or manage unwanted burrowing by using barriers, repellents, or seeking professional assistance if necessary.

How can I help conserve burrowing animals in Texas?

You can help conserve burrowing animals in Texas by supporting wildlife conservation organizations, participating in local habitat restoration projects, and promoting responsible land management practices that ensure the protection and preservation of their habitats.

Are Termites Considered Burrowing Animals in Texas?

Termites are among the most common texas termites that are usually associated with burrowing activities. These tiny insects are known for their ability to dig tunnels and create extensive underground colonies. With their insatiable appetite for wood, termites can cause significant damage to structures if left unchecked. To address the issue, it is crucial to identify the presence of common Texas termites promptly and take appropriate measures for effective termite control.

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