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30 Examples of Ground Burrowing Animals

From moles to meerkats, there are a variety of animals that make their homes by burrowing in the ground. Some animals, like the prairie dog, live in complex communities underground while others, like the gopher, are loners. Burrowing animals often use their tunnels as a way to escape predators or the extreme heat or cold of their habitats.

This article explores 30 examples of ground burrowing animals.

30 Ground Burrowing Animals

1. Badger

Badger was looking at its prey
A badger was looking at its prey | image by caroline legg via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Badgers are a type of animal that burrows in the ground. They are usually found in wooded areas, and their diet consists of small mammals and insects.

2. Worm Snake

Eastern wormsnake
Eastern wormsnake | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Worm snakes are small, thin snakes that get their name from their resemblance to earthworms. They are non-venomous and eat small insects and other invertebrates.

3. Shovel-nosed Snake

Colorado desert shovel-nosed snake
Colorado desert shovel-nosed snake | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

These snakes get their name from their strange, flattened heads which resemble a shovel or spade. Their smooth scales make it easy for them to “swim” through sand and bury themselves.

4. Fennec Fox

Fennec fox
Fennec fox

The fennec fox is the smallest member of the canid family that lives in deserts. They dig dens in the sand to escape the heat of the day and to raise their young.

5. Puffin

Puffins on the grassy edge of a cliff
A puffins on the grassy edge of a cliff | image by jtweedie1976 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Puffins are small, stocky birds with large beaks. They are excellent swimmers and can dive deeply to catch fish. Puffins burrow to build their nests and raise their young.

6. Box Turtle

Three-toed box turtle
Three-toed box turtle

These turtles get their name from their ability to close up their shell like a box, which helps protect them from predators. They burrow to hibernate during winter.

7. Spadefoot Toad

Couch's spadefoot toad
Couch’s spadefoot toad | image by California Department of Fish and Wildlife via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Spadefoot toads burrow to survive cold winter temperatures. They have been known to bury themselves up to 8 feet below the surface.

8. Groundhog

Groundhog out of his hole
Groundhog out of his hole | image by wombat434 via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Perhaps one of the most popular burrowing animals, the groundhog is famous for predicting the coming of Spring when he leaves his burrow after winter hibernation. Groundhogs spend their life in burrows.

9. Eastern Hognose Snake

Eastern hognose snake playing dead
Eastern hognose snake playing dead

Hognose snakes are nonvenomous and typically harmless to humans, although they may bite if provoked. They use their unusual turned-up snout to dig into the soil and burrow.

10. Wombat

A wombat by Alois Bühlmann from Pixabay

Wombats are marsupials that are found in Australia and Tasmania. They look like a giant guinea pig, and they burrow to sleep during the day because they’re nocturnal.

11. Tiger Salamander

Eastern tiger salamander
Eastern tiger salamander | image by Peter Paplanus via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Tiger salamanders are one of the largest salamander species in North America. They’re a mole salamander so they love to dig and burrow.

12. Giant Burrowing Frog

Giant burrowing frog on the ground
Giant burrowing frog on the ground | image by Doug Beckers via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The giant burrowing frog is a species of frog that is found in Australia. They dig burrows with powerful hind legs. They can remain in their burrow for months and even years during severe droughts.

13. Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl perched on a log
Burrowing Owl perched on a log | image by Jaime Robles via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

The burrowing owl is a small owl that is found in North and South America. The owl gets its name from living in underground burrows on grasslands and deserts.

14. Yellow-spotted Monitor Lizard

Yellow-spotted monitor lizard
Yellow-spotted monitor lizard | image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The yellow-spotted monitor lizard is a burrowing reptile that is native to Australia and New Guinea. They spend majority of their time in huge burrow systems underground with several individuals.

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15. Gopher Tortoise

Gopher Tortoise
A gopher tortoise moving out

Gopher tortoises are found throughout the southeastern United States, and they are known for their large, round shells. They dig deep burrows in which they spend most of their time for protection from predators and the desert heat.

16. Armadillo

Screaming hairy armadillo
Screaming hairy armadillo | image by Terry Robinson via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Armadillos have thick armored plates on their backs and sides that protect them from predators. They also have long claws that they use for digging. Armadillos dig burrows in which to live and raise their young.

17. Desert Skink

Desert rainbow skink on the ground
A desert rainbow skink on the ground | image by John O’Neill (jjron) via Wikimedia Commons

Desert skinks are small lizards that live in the deserts of North America. They burrow into the sand to escape the heat and to hide from predators.

18. Alligator

Chinese Alligator on rocks
Chinese Alligator on rocks | image by Tony Alter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Alligators live in wetland habitats and can be found throughout the southeastern United States. They burrow in the wintertime in the banks of rivers, creeks, and swamps.

19. Sand Martin

Sand martins on a tree branch
A sand martins on a tree branch | image by Andy Morffew via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Sand Martins are small birds found in Europe and Asia, also called a bank swallow. They get their name from their habitat. They nest in burrows in sandbanks near water.

20. Mole

Mole in hole
A mole in hole | image by Inde via Pixabay

Moles are small, burrowing animals that live underground. They are found in a variety of habitats around the world and are known for their tunneling abilities.

21. Mud Salamander

Mud salamander in the wild
A mud salamander in the wild | image by Ashley Wahlberg (Tubbs) via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Mud salamanders are found in North America. They prefer humid environments and can be found near ponds and other wet areas. When the weather is dry, they retreat to their underground burrows to avoid the heat.

22. Meerkat

Meerkat by quhl from Pixabay

There are a number of animals that burrow in the ground, but one of the most interesting is the meerkat. They are very social animals and live in groups of up to 30 individuals in a complex tunnel system.

23. Wood Frog

Wood frog
A wood frog

Wood frogs are found in woods and forested areas across North America. They live the furthest north of any frog and burrow in the winter. They freeze almost solid in their burrows before they emerge in spring.

24. Gopher

Pocket Gophers
Pocket Gopher | image by sfbaywalk via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Gophers are common burrowing rodents people try to keep from tunneling in their yards. They are found in North America and parts of Europe.

25. Shearwater

Shearwater on flight
A shearwater on flight | image by michael clarke stuff via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Shearwaters are a type of seabird that spends most of its time flying over the ocean in search of food. When they’re not flying, they’re usually resting on the water’s surface or in burrows along the shore.

26. Mongoose

Indian gray mongoose
Indian gray mongoose | image by J.M.Garg via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Mongoose are small carnivorous mammals native to southern Eurasia and Africa. They are found living in burrows or surface tunnels, and have been known to kill cobras and other deadly snakes.

27. Sand Boa

Kenyan sand boa
Kenyan sand boa

Sand boa are adapted to burrowing in sand. They have eyes and nostrils positioned on the top of their head so they can bury their body, leaving their eyes and nose exposed.

28. Prairie Dog

Group of prairie dogs
Group of Prairie dogs | image by Jodie Wilson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Prairie dogs are small rodents that create extensive tunnel systems with their powerful front legs and sharp claws. These tunnels house their large families. Prairie dogs have been known to live in colonies or “prairie dog towns” of up to several hundred individuals.

29. Shrew

Young Shrew forage on the ground
Young Shrew forage on the ground | Image by RPN from Pixabay

Shrews are small fierce little predators that burrow in the ground. There are many different species of shrew, and they can be found all over the world.

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30. Mexican Burrowing Toad

Mexican burrowing toad in moistland
Mexican burrowing toad in moistland | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The Mexican burrowing toad is a small, stocky toad that is found in the deserts of northern Mexico. It is a nocturnal creature that spends its days burrowed underground in tunnels.

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