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31 Animals that Burrow Underground (A to Z List & Pictures)

animals that burrow underground

Animals that burrow underground will do so for warmth and protection. They will protect themselves by creating burrows that are almost inaccessible for their predators to access, but will also use their burrows to escape the cold in winter.

Burrowing animals also often have adaptations on their bodies that help them to burrow such as strong bills (like the platypus) or sharp digging claws (like the European mole).

List of Animals that Burrow Underground

1. Aardvark

Aardvark
Scientific NameOrycteropus afer
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 52 inches
HabitatAfrica

This animal with a very long nose is native to parts of Africa. With its long nose, the aardvark will sniff out food, and it needs to have a good sense of smell because it often resides in deep burrows. It’s a nocturnal feeder that will primarily feed on ants and other insects in its habitat.

2. Ants

ant mound
Scientific NameFormicidae
ClassificationInsect
SizeUp to 2 inches
HabitatForests, underground

When we talk about animals that burrow underground we must not forget about the ants. These hard-working creatures often create colonies that live together in a larger burrow system. It’s often a sophisticated system meant to keep the ants alive, as they seek food when they leave the burrow.

3. Australian Funnel Web Spiders

a funnel web with a spider on it
Scientific NameAtracidae
ClassificationArachnid
VenomHigh
SizeUp to 2 inches
HabitatVarious

The funnel-web spider is one of the most dangerous spider species in the world. Its venom is among the most potent venoms of all spiders, so it might be wise to avoid it in the future. More importantly, make sure you avoid its burrows which is where it waits for its prey.

4. Black-Tailed Prairie Dog

Prairie Dog
Scientific NameCynomys ludovicianus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 17 inches
HabitatGrasslands

The black-tailed prairie dog is a rodent that creates burrows into the ground. They have long black claws that are made for digging, and they’re also quite flexible, which allows them to pass through their burrows with ease.

5. Botta’s Pocket Gopher

Gopher
Scientific NameThomomys bottae
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 11 inches
HabitatForests, grasslands

The Botta’s pocket gopher is a very versatile animal. It can create burrows in all types of environments, as its body is adapted to different types of soils. They dig with teeth, so they can create burrows in different soils, even the tougher ones.

6. Brown Rat

Brown Rat
Scientific NameRattus norvegicus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 11 inches
HabitatForests, urban areas

Even rats will create burrows underground. Although they might seek shelter in different areas as they are quite adaptable, they prefer to stay hidden inside a burrow. This common rodent is now spread on all continents except for Antarctica, so you might be able to find one near you, as well.

7. Burrowing Owl

Spotted Owl
Scientific NameAthene cunicularia
ClassificationBird
SizeUp to 10 inches
HabitatGrasslands, deserts

Did you know that there is an owl species that creates burrows? That’s right, and it’s called the burrowing owl (for obvious reasons). These owls often use burrows of other animals to create nests. They prefer to live in open grasslands where many burrowing animals live so they can use their burrows to live.

8. Burrowing Urchin

Urchin
Scientific NameEchinometra matthaei
ClassificationEchinoidea
VenomMedium-high
SizeUp to 3.5 inches
HabitatOceans

If you’ve never seen the burrowing urchin, then you might be thinking: what on Earth is this creature and how does it create burrows? It doesn’t necessarily dig holes into the ground, but it seeks deeper areas where it can reside. But it also digs itself into the ground, which can cause erosion of the coral reefs.

9. Daurian Pika

Pika
Scientific NameOchotona dauurica
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 7 inches
HabitatForests, grasslands

The Daurian pika is a cute little animal that will create burrows underground, too. They often live in large communities where they will help other members of the community to survive easier.

10. Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise
Scientific NameGopherus agassizii
ClassificationReptile
SizeUp to 16 inches
HabitatDeserts

The desert tortoise is, sadly, an endangered species. They can live to up to 80 years which is impressive, considering these animals tend to live in dry and hot climates. They are well adapted to shortages of salt and water, though. Sometimes, they will dig burrows to find some escape from the heat.

11. California Ground Squirrel

Squirrel
Scientific NameOtospermophilus beecheyi
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 12 inches
HabitatForests

Ground squirrels will dig holes into the ground and create their burrow there. The Californian ground squirrel is one of the most common ground squirrel species to indulge in that behavior.

12. Common Wombat

wombat
Scientific NameVombatus ursinus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 39 inches
HabitatWatery areas

The common wombat is a marsupial that lives in many areas of Australia – particularly in the Southeastern part. There, it will create burrows into the ground, although it will spend most of its time above the ground looking for food.

13. Eastern Chipmunk

Chipmunk
Scientific NameTamias striatus
ClassificationMammal
Size12 inches
HabitatForests

The Eastern chipmunk is an excellent tree climber and an even better burrow digger. It will transfer soil in its mouth away from its burrow to hide all evidence of its existence to remain as hidden as possible.

14. European Badger

badger
Scientific NameMeles meles
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 32 inches
HabitatForests

The European badger will create large-scale burrows that can be up to 270 feet long. Inside these burrows, the badger will spend longer and colder days. However, during the night, the European badger will leave its burrow to hunt.

15. European Mole

mole
Scientific NameTalpa Europaea
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 6.3 inches
HabitatUnderground

One of the first animals that you might think about when we speak about animals that burrow underground is the mole. This animal is often seen in gardens and grasslands where it will create large burrows underground, leaving a big mound above the ground. 

16. European Rabbit

European Rabbit
Scientific NameOryctolagus cuniculus
ClassificationMammal
Size16 inches
HabitatForests, grasslands

To survive the attacks of the many predators out there, the European rabbit needs to create burrows where it will hide. While it is primarily native to Europe and European countries like Spain, France, and Portugal, it has been introduced into other habitats, which has often created imbalances.

17. Giant Pangolin

Scientific NameSmutsia gigantea
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 4.6 feet
HabitatForests

The giant pangolin is the largest pangolin species in the world. All pangolins around the world are threatened – some more than others. The giant pangolin will dig burrows into the ground to hide and protect itself from potential predators.

18. Greater Bilby

Bilby
Scientific NameMacrotis lagotis
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 22 inches
HabitatGrasslands, urban areas

The greater bilby is native to Australia. Some time ago, it was only restricted to arid areas and drier habitats, but in more recent decades, this animal has become used to urban areas, too. The burrow that it creates is like a spiral that spans downwards, which enables it to stay safe from predators.

19. Least Weasel

weasel
Scientific NameMustela nivalis
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 14 inches
HabitatForests

Slender and sleek in nature, the weasel is well adapted to living in burrows. It has to be this sleek to go around the burrow system it usually creates.

20. Magellanic Penguin

Emperor Penguin
Scientific NameSpheniscus magellanicus
ClassificationBird
SizeUp to 30 inches
HabitatCoastal areas

The Magellanic penguin is a black-and-white penguin species found in coastal areas of South America. These wonderful penguins will create burrows underground to protect themselves against predators and other animals. They will also use these burrows to lay their eggs inside.

21. Meerkat

Meerkat
Scientific NameSuricata suricatta
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 14 inches
HabitatDeserts, savannas

The meerkat, sometimes also called a suricate, creates long and deep burrows into the ground to stay safe. They have powerful claws that are designed to dig deep into the ground no matter how dry it might be. They also have several adaptations on their bodies that allow them to sustain dry and hot climates.

22. Nine-Banded Armadillo

Armadillo
Scientific NameDasypus novemcinctus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 10 inches
HabitatVarious

The nine-banded armadillo is the most common armadillo species in the world. It is known for its thick armor that protects it, but also for its jumping ability. The armadillo can jump up to 4 feet high, which can sometimes make it a dangerous animal if it winds up on a road.

Related Article: Do Nine-Banded Armadillo Have Shells?

23. North American River Otter

otter
Scientific NameLontra Canadensis
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 42 inches
HabitatForests, semi-aquatic areas, rivers

Known for its thick fur that repels water, the river otter is well adapted to living in aquatic habitats. The otter will often create a burrow close to the water’s edge, where it feels at its safest. These den systems are meant to protect the large families of otters and keep them safe from predators.

24. Platypus

Platypus
Scientific NameOrnithorhynchus anatinus
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 24 inches
HabitatSemi-aquatic

Native to the eastern part of Australia and New Zealand, the platypus is a legendary animal in Australian culture. It’s also an important animal for the Aborigines who used to hunt the animal for food. Recently, the platypus has become an endangered species because of the loss of habitat.

25. Red Fox

red fox
Scientific NameVulpes vulpes
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 20 inches
HabitatForests, various

Did you know that even foxes dig burrows to create dens? Yes, their burrows might not be as deep as those of some other animals we’ve just seen, but their burrow systems can be quite complex, too. They are important for their survival because they allow them to hide there from potential predators.

26. Shrew 

Shrew
Scientific NameSoricidae
ClassificationMammal
Size6 inches
HabitatForests

Shrews are tiny mammals that resemble mice, but they also have longer noses than mice. In that regard, they resemble a hedgehog or even a mole more closely. In any case, the main survival technique of this animal is to create burrows into the ground to survive.

27. Tarantulas

tarantula spider
Scientific NameTheraphosidae
ClassificationArachnid
VenomMedium
SizeUp to 4.5 inches
HabitatForests, various

There are over 1000 different subspecies of tarantulas, but most of them have one thing in common: they create burrows. They are ambushing spiders as they will wait for their prey to pass by their burrow before they strike. They also have a relatively potent venom, which is not dangerous to humans, though.

28. Termites

termites
Scientific NameCoptotermes formosanus
ClassificationInsect 
DietWood
HabitatHot climates

Termites can create nests underground by burrowing into tree roots and create their homes. In hot climates, termites can be a serious threat to homes. They burrow into the wood foundations of houses and undermine the house’s integrity.

29. Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor Spider
Scientific NameCteniza sauvagesi
ClassificationArachnid 
VenomLow-medium
SizeUp to 1.5 inches
HabitatForests

There are many spiders that create burrows into the ground, but not many as prominently as the trapdoor spider. They will use these burrows to hide and wait for their prey, which gives the spider a headstart and an advantage over their prey.

30. Wolf Spiders

wolf spider
Scientific NameLycosidae
ClassificationArachnid
VenomMedium
SizeUp to 2 inches
HabitatForests, various

The wolf spider is another spider species that creates burrows into the ground. Although this spider is one of the fastest spider species in the world, it still uses ambushing as a hunting technique. They don’t spin webs, but they have excellent eyesight and they’re also agile, allowing them to be excellent hunters.

31. Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Marmot
Scientific NameMarmota flaviventris
ClassificationMammal
SizeUp to 27 inches
HabitatMountains, forests

The yellow-bellied marmot is a thick and strong marmot species that create burrows for colonies of up to 20 individuals. They also hibernate during the winter and might spend up to 8 months in hibernation.

Conclusion

Animals that burrow underground protect themselves by staying inside their burrows. Some burrowing animals make deeper burrows than others, but they are all good diggers and exceptional at hiding from predators. Some even use their burrows to hunt, such as some of the hunting spiders seen above.

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