I recently filled a window seat with potted plants, mostly succulents. The last couple of days something's been digging into plants, mainly an aloe vera. This isn't a small hole, almost half of the soil in the pot ends up next to the plant. Whatever it is also knocked a jade plant over. No signs of droppings or anything else disturbed. Please advise.

  • If you have a cat, then perhaps look no further. yesterday

2 Answers 2


It's the 21st century. Odds are excellent that you have something that records video, possibly many such things, some of which might be obsolete, but still capable of recording video (looking at you, old cell phones and tablets.)

Set one or more such things up with the video recording adjusted so that it can shoot for 8 hours or more, provide enough light that it can see, review the video in the morning.

  • You may even have something that can record only on motion (I think there are Android apps for that) so you don;t have to review hours of video. OTOH if you leave enough light on for the device to see, that might be enough to act as a deterrent to a nocturnal creature.
    – Chris H
    Nov 29, 2022 at 15:29

Given the time of the year (assuming you're in the northern hemisphere), the creature is either a mouse or, more probably, a shrew. Shrews are carnivores, so if that's what this is (and I think it is), then its looking for buried insects or earthworms. This is especially the case if you've had those pots outside during the summer. Shrews resemble mice but they're a darker brown and have an elongated, very pointy nose. In my experience, shrews do not damage much at all when in a house, unlike mice.

Mice are easy to eradicate, but shrews are much, much more difficult because they're smarter. I've had one in a house in the past and tried a variety of mousetraps - including one setup where I had a baited mousetrap surrounded by non-baited and set mousetraps. The shrew popped every single non-baited trap, then popped the baited trap, then ate the bait. I only caught him when I used a small live-trap. I let him go near a woodpile a mile away because he was a worthy adversary. Not sure who actually won that battle, but I suspect it was the shrew (free transportation to its desired home).

  • Note "small" live trap - shrews can get out of live traps that will catch mice and voles (I had a cat that brought them in)
    – Chris H
    Nov 29, 2022 at 15:32
  • @ChrisH - Interesting. My opponent rattled the bars but didn't make it through them. Perhaps we used different brands of traps (mine was for mice, but had very narrow steel bars). The shrew did get out of one of those little plastic traps that close behind the mouse when it touches the bait. He rolled it around on the floor until it broke - and then got into the second one I'd baited and did the same thing. He was smart little bugger.
    – Jurp
    Nov 29, 2022 at 20:04
  • Definitely different. My live trap didn't have bars. It was sheet metal with punched holes.
    – Chris H
    Nov 29, 2022 at 20:20

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