Site map
About the site  

Unlike any other


Birds are one group of vertebrates that one does not usually associate with burrowing. 33 families of birds contain burrowing species --- from bank swallows (burrows on this photo) to certain parrots to penguins (Voorhies 1975).Photo E. Ponomarenko


Modern examples



Limiting factors


Fossil examples


Burrowing is among the most common types of behaviour among terrestrial vertebrates. It is especially common among mammals. In the grasslands, burrowing is more important still. 72 of the 90 species of mammals found in the Eurasian steppes depend on a burrow (Voorhies 1975).

Some animals use a burrow seasonally, others throughout the year. The burrow is used for shelter from predators and from inclement weather. In many speceis, it is only used for rearing young. Among animals that occupy a burrow seasonally, some use it to hibernate or aestivate – spend the unfavourable season in deep sleep. Some animals store food in the burrow. This is usually not the only use of the burrow. For example, specialized granary chambers allow the ground squirrel to periodically wake up from deep sleep and replenish energy. Another specialized chamber is the latrine. By sealing off their waste, animals can live in a burrow longer. Finally, animals can burrow for foraging. Such animals include both herbivores (gophers, mole-rats), insectivores (mole, marsupial mole), and carnivores (American badger, which has evolved as a specialist predator of gopher) (Voorhies 1975).

Back to lobby