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I went out to take a few pictures for plant identification and noticed these surface trenches in our lawn. The trenches are more visible in weed-heavy areas (2nd pic). I've read about the various rodents but none of them seem to leave surface damages like this. We live in western Massachusetts.

Pic 1 (large) Pic 2 (large)

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  • Where do you live? Where is this lawn?
    – Johannes_B
    May 30 at 14:56
  • We live in western Massachusetts.
    – Roc W.
    May 30 at 14:57
  • Is that a hole I can see at the end of the trench, bottom of the right hand picture, where something may have emerged and caused the damage?
    – Bamboo
    May 30 at 16:26
  • I actually just went outside (heavy rain yesterday) to check if this was indeed a hole. It was not, just a tad deeper but part of a longer tunnel.
    – Roc W.
    May 31 at 15:20
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Each spring when the snow recedes, the meadows where we live (Black Forest, Germany) show a true maze of carved-out pathways just like in your pictures.

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They are caused by mice that rather burrow at the border between soil and snow in search of food. They use them to get from one place to another, they are not made to purposely destroy your lawn. Other rodents like voles can cause a similar pattern.

During summer they will again retreat to a more underground lifestyle and you will only see the entrances to their underground tunnels - like the one I think is visible in the second picture. The pathways will also get overgrown and disappear, until the next winter snow covers the meadows.

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Btw, moles are not the culprits. They see no need to traverse your lawn in search of food and so also don’t cause these pathways. They dig their runs to catch their prey of earthworms and grubs further down and in cold winter will access their food storage of paralyzed earthworms created just for that purpose. Moles’ presence is easiest identified by the piles of excavated soil, the famous molehills.

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  • Thanks! I've definitely seen mice myself and have heard from neighbors that they spotted voles. Interestingly this tunnel is new although the snow has long melted.
    – Roc W.
    May 31 at 15:23

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