Some animal has been digging at the ground around my pepper plants. The rest of my garden is fine, including my tomatoes. This is a regularly occurring problem, every two days or so.

What animal could be responsible for this? I've seen a skunk, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds, toads and a cat all roaming around my yard, so I'm not sure what I'm trying to defend against.

Are there any suggestions for keeping them protected?

pepper plant with hole dug next to it

  • Go out at night with a flash light? This looks like a cat. Didn't touch your plant. I'd pull that bark back away from your plant and cover with a plastic milk gallon jug. Cut the bottom off with a serrated knife and fit over your little plant at night. A little greenhouse Remove during the day. Look at all those samaras. That bark also hosts larger insects such as earwigs, pill bugs, cockroaches, slugs, snails. Have you used any fertilizer? Perhaps the cats just like using the bark for their kitty litter?
    – stormy
    Jun 8, 2018 at 0:49
  • I'll pull the bark back and try to erect some sort of plastic barrier. No fertilizer, just trying to fit some vegetable plants into the existing landscaping. This occurred during the day, between 9am and 8pm, so I guess that helps narrow down the suspects a bit.
    – Brad Koch
    Jun 8, 2018 at 0:55
  • It is time for fertilizer for this guy and any of your plants you know that have not had fertilizer applied.If this happened during the day I think that does narrow it down...squirrels are also suspect. They won't hurt your plants, neither will cats. The coloring of your pepper's leaves if color can be trusted in photos, shows it is in need of fertilizer. 5-5-5 Dr. Earth's all purpose is a good one i am using this year for my veggie starts. I wouldn't bother with the protection. Yay, less work for once! Rake the bark back for beneath the shrubs. Insects would love a tender dinner.
    – stormy
    Jun 8, 2018 at 1:51

2 Answers 2


I agree with stormy that it looks like a cat was digging there. Some cats love to dig, and return to the same spot to do it.

Our toads don't usually leave visible evidence of their burrows.

Rabbits might do that, too, but they might eat your pepper.

I don't think a bird would do that.

I'm not sure about squirrels, chipmunks or skunks.

If you dig in there and find some poop, it's probably a cat.

I've had cats pooping by our peppers in our old raised bed regularly. However, they often missed the holes they dug.

  • 1
    How funny, Shule. Yup, there definitely would not be a pepper any more with rabbits. Birds could have done that, a strong crow, a raven could dig irrigation trenches. Even a robin going for earthworms. Grubs. Your cats must live a silver spoon in their mouth, Shule. Like pampered and without a care about predators. I just found we have a litter of kittens, now. 5 cuties. Yay.
    – stormy
    Jun 8, 2018 at 1:57
  • 1
    Worth noting that I didn't find any poop this time or on any previous checks. If it is the cat, it's not doing it to cover its scat.
    – Brad Koch
    Jun 8, 2018 at 12:10

I take a 5gallon bucket, saw off the bottom and put the resulting cylinder over my plant babies. The flat flanges go dirt side and can be covered with a ring of dirt to keep the cylinder from blowing away. It also creates a little high moisture zone if you're germinating outside. The cylinder will make things mighty awkward for pesky critters with its slick sides and confined space. The plant will do fine for weeks and you can remove the plastic bucket cylinder when the foliage is big enough to be a natural deterrent. I've even used this with Agribon to keep flying pests away while the plant is less than a bucket high.

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