Mammal Nests and Burrows

Like birds, mammals also create homes for themselves in a variety of places.

(click on photos to see a larger version)

Many mammals dig burrows in soil. This is common among rodents, such as woodchucks, eastern chipmunks, and thirteen-lined ground squirrels.

Opening of chipmunk burrow under construction. (Chipmunk will carefully hide the excavated earth when finished.)

photo of hidden chipmunk burrow

This chipmunk burrow has been well camouflaged by leaves.

Photo of opening to Ground Squirrel burrow

Opening of ground squirrel burrow

Opening of woodchuck burrow

Most insectivores, such as moles and shrews, burrow tunnels in the ground, leaf litter, or snow. The tunnels are nests and also a way to find food.

Photo of Mole burrow in leaf litter

Star-nosed mole burrow in leaf litter

Photo of Shrew tunnel in snow

Shrew tunnel under snow

Moles create long lines of upturned earth as they tunnel through loose soil catching insects and other invertebrates.

Photo of mole tunnel along path

Mole tunnel in a path

Tree squirrels, such as grey squirrels and fox squirrels, build nests high in trees out of leaves.

Photo of 2 Gray Squirrel nests in trees

gray squirrel nests in trees

Other mammals, such as white-footed mice, red squirrels, raccoons, and skunks, find natural cavities in trees or sheltered areas -- like under logs -- to build their nests.

Photo of Red Squirrel Den i n tree

red squirrel den in a tree

Muskrats live near water. They construct lodges out of cattails and other marsh grasses.

muskrat lodge

Voles live in grassy areas. Voles build both underground burrows and above-ground runways and nests in the grass. If you see small openings in the grass that lead to mouse-sized tunnels both in the grass and into the ground, then you've found the home and foraging area of a vole.

Photo of Vole nest (with pocket knife for size reference)

vole nest

Photo of Vole hole

vole hole

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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