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Underground Abodes – A Look at the Burrowing Animals and Their Homes 


Do you know suddenly where any animal comes from except those who are shown openly grazing on the fields or fostered in some sheds or commanding from some dens? All the other habitats do make a home for themselves, they are called ‘Burrows’. Each variety makes its own or occupies others making them their abode for nesting, hibernating, rearing, mating, and escaping too. Let’s understand what are burrows and the animals that make burrows.

What is a Burrow?

A Burrow is a hole or a tunnel dug by certain animals of distinct species making their dwellings safe and secure. The animals make their excavations to nest, hibernate, reproduce, and store food along with escape routes during the time of emergency. These are made like a network of tunnels and chambers for specific purposes suiting their role and life in the ecosystem. 

They vary in size and type based on the land, animal, and the overall environmental impact. Some make them as their permanent abode while some repurpose them for a temporary period. Along with being an abode to retreat for the animals, these burrows and the process help in ecological health. The exterior of the entrance of any burrow seems to be very simple, but deep within lies the meticulous designs and construction of chambers. 

More than these creatures finding refuge in these burrows, they find bliss in their world making and owning them as their homes.

20 Animals that do Burrowing 

Here are the 20 animals that do burrowing or occupy the existing ones and repurpose them accordingly.


Burrows made by the rabbits are also called ‘Warrens’. These are well-adapted to burrow living and have the necessary skills to interconnect the burrow of an individual to the other making colonies and chambers (an inevitable way to ensue a war for the collected carrots amongst bugs-bunnies). Their powerful hind legs aid them to construct intricate and retreating burrows that can withstand the effects of the causes on the exterior environment providing a secure abode. A sleeping quarter, an escape route, and a deep yet shortcut to the nearby food crops or storages form part of this burrow.

Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs are those whose standing postures look like they are making a cute appeal, but their sting teeth from rodent families keep us at bay. Though looks silly, these are serious with persistence and inherent intellect in making remarkable burrows. They are strategic with separate chambers for nesting, sleeping, and even disposal of waste. The entrances, interconnected tunnels, and rapid escape routes provide refuge for the entire colony during hostile situations. These herbivores are mostly found in North America. 


These are known for their shy and wary behavior and not so easy to make friends with humans. Well, they are known to hibernate during the winter and come out only to get sun-bathed or sun-kissed in summer. Their strong limbs and sharp claws get them deep underground to make burrows with multiple entrances, exits, and escape routes. The interiors of the abode are generally spacious to store the vegetation they collect during hibernation. They even share their abode with other kinds during the breeding season. 


Though small in size these mischievous omnivores can’t be a pet yet seem to be friendly, as the common traits of these are digging new and more burrows aggressively. They use their strong claws and powerful limbs to excavate soil. They construct extensively on sandy soils, working on their abodes collectively by taking up specific roles individually. Each clan has its respective inlets and outlets. They primarily forage through the area for food at days and retreat to their burrows at night. 


These are experts in digging burrows and living a subterranean lifestyle. With streamlined bodies, powerful limbs, and particularly shovel-like hands make them proficient in tunneling soil. These solitary creatures of various clans are set up in design for each. They specialize in poaching earthworms, small creatures, larvae, and others through digging for food. The burrows include intricate tunnels, main runways, and also shallower feeding tunnels for reproduction along with sections to be alert and secured from hostile situations. These are well-known to be the serious concerns in farms. 


These are renowned for their exceptional burrowing abilities that can dig the hard ground in just a few minutes. The burrows are often found in well-drained soils with multiple chambers for sleeping, grooming, and rearing. These burrows are also called ‘setts’. These are nocturnal animals with sharp senses who hunt at night and store their food in the burrows. These are known for their collective and social behavior of working together during potential threats. They even dig burrows in certain strategic locations only to rear their small ones called cubs. 


How diligent a fox can be in digging burrows when they are known to be the most cunning animal? Known to be opportunistic and adaptive, they occupy the pre-existing burrows made by groundhogs or rabbits. Well, later and frequently they repurpose them accordingly. They also dig a few when necessary in sandy and soft soil. They choose and make den-like burrows with escape routes and proximity to food sources. They hunt and forage around dusk and dawn making a retreat during the day. 


These are nocturnal creatures and tend to seek refuge in caves. Their abodes consist of chambers for hibernation, reproduction, food storage, and nesting. Their burrows depend on the territories like leaf litter, vegetation lands, or any debris owing to their adaptability. They burrow not only for simple purposes but also to be dormant in their abodes unaffected by extreme temperatures. 

Burrowing Owl

This is also called ‘Shoco’, found mostly on the open landscapes of North and South America. These dig their burrows utilizing their strong legs and sharp bills up to several feet. These also repurpose the tunnels into their abodes that were once tunneled by squirrels or prairie dogs. They dig their entrances precisely only to stand there and count the potential threats to retreat if any adverse happens. 


These are sweet and affectionate mammals with protective armored shells, yet they dwell underground in burrows. They are skilled diggers of burrows for nesting and protection from predators and environmental issues. They construct in loose soil often in areas under vegetation. Their burrows extend for several meters, providing escape routes, nesting, and storage chambers. Some stay within themselves while others are solitary to share their chambers with others. These are nocturnal, utilizing the burrows during the daytime to escape threats and heat waves. 


These are found in North and Central America and are known as adept excavators. These are of the rodent family and use their sharp teeth and powerful front claws to create extensive tunnel systems. They construct two types of burrows shallow and temporary burrows for quick escapes and deep nesting, extending to several meters comprising a network of chambers. Each chamber has a specific function for feeding, rearing, reproduction, and food storage. These are herbivores sustained on roots, tubers, and other plant matter. Their burrowing system can impact the overall ecosystem. They pose a serious concern to the farmers in the vegetation land. 


These unique mammals are known for their elongated snouts and tongues to consume ants and termites. They do not construct their burrows but rather occupy the existing ones of others and repurpose them later. Primarily nocturnal spending days retreating the burrows, they can enlarge the space of the existing burrows offering themselves a secluded space for rest and protection. 


These are highly adaptable in exhibiting various behaviors when it comes to sheltering in the burrows. They can’t make their burrows, so they occupy others and repurpose them later accordingly. They repurpose the burrows into dens to raise their pups protecting them from any potential threat. The choice of repurposing their burrows or dens is based on the changing ecosystems, ranging from deserts to forests. They are predominantly nocturnal creatures retreating during day times and thriving under diverse environmental conditions leveraging the work of other burrow-building species. 

Desert Tortoise

These are fascinating reptiles too not a great or prolific burrow builder, but utilize others for shelter and temperature regulating issues. These burrows serve these tortoises from extreme weather conditions providing refuge. These can repurpose such occupied burrows and dig up to 3 meters deep, seeking protection from potential threats and environmental changes. During the hotter season, these burrows regulate the temperature while providing insulation during the colder weather against chilling temperatures. This shows the tortoise’s remarkable adaptation to the conditions of the deserts. 


These are well-adapted burrowers creating extensive depths and a network of tunnels connecting within. They use their strong forelimbs and robust claws to make such excavations into the soil and sandy substrates. These are nocturnal, emerging only at night while retreating into the burrows in the daytime. Their burrows consist of various chambers for nesting, rearing, reproduction, and food storage. These burrows help them to combat serious weather conditions hot or cold.

Monitor Lizard

Although these are known to be expert climbers and swimmers, they dig burrows in the soil or utilize the existing ones as their abode. These are essentially used them lay their eggs and secure them from any potential threats. They are dangerous and opportunistic and their burrows play as an ambush to trap the prey. The burrows at the concealed location make them patiently hide and catch their prey when they appear close to the entrance. They modify their burrows based on their growing size and also adapt to the changing ecosystems and climates. 

Bobwhite Quail

These are ground-dwelling birds, not peculiarly burrowing but relying on the natural ground coverings of leaves and others. These are mostly found in grasslands, fields, and agricultural areas. They are highly adaptable to a terrestrial lifestyle. The female bobwhites create a shallow nest while nesting and hatching the eggs. Their abodes and retreating areas are not pure burrows but resemble burrow-like structures that are a haven for their dwellings. 


This fascinating insect lives its substantial portion in the burrows. The larvae stage called ‘Doodlebug’ is the time it starts to excavate a conical pit in the ground waiting for the prey to feed on. The burrows or the pits dug by these offer a dual purpose of sheltering and effective hunting strategy. As the larvae mature, they gradually undergo metamorphosis only to emerge from the burrows as an adult winged insect. The antlion’s Burrowing behavior exemplifies a remarkable adaptation for survival and predation during its formative stages. 


These are nocturnal species adapted to the arid environmental issues relying on the burrows it digs to be secured. These creatures with their long snout and powerful limbs excavate burrows in the sandy soils. These create a  network of interconnected tunnels serving as multishelters providing protection. These burrows extend up to 3 meters in length to sustain the fluctuating weather conditions. The burrows make them feel cool and regulated during the scorching heat and other extreme issues.

Burrowing Frog

These are found in the Madagascar region, and known for their burrowing lifestyle. Their specialized and robust forelimbs facilitate efficient digging. They spend the majority of their lives underground, emerging primarily only during the breeding season. Their excavated tunnel leads to the subterranean chambers. These burrows are a refuge from the extremities of the exterior atmosphere and desiccation. Male frogs construct specialized chambers for mating and rearing. They showcase their diverse strategies for navigating along with the changes in the environment.


This is another side of construction where the stories and chambers never scale up but go deep within the ground. 


Do burrowing animals make temporary or permanent burrows?

Prairie dogs make permanent burrows and tortoises, frogs, foxes, and others make temporary burrows.

Where is the burrowing fauna found?

Grasslands, tundra regions, woodlands, and forests are the best examples where fauna burrowing behavior is evident.

Does burrowing help in soil health?

Yes, they promote aeration, conduits for water movement in the soil, the act of burrowing makes the subsurface soil sprayed to the surface and helps in mixing minerals, supports preventing soil erosion, and many other contributions.