Do Animals Dig Up Graves? Which Ones And Why

While it is rare for animals to dig up graves, there are some instances where certain animals may engage in this behavior. It is important to note that these occurrences are uncommon and typically happen due to specific circumstances. In this article, we will explore which animals may dig up graves and the reasons behind their behavior.

Domestic Dogs:

Dogs are known to have a keen sense of smell and a natural instinct for digging. In some cases, domestic dogs may dig up graves out of curiosity or in response to a strong scent coming from the burial site. Dogs may be attracted to the smell of decomposition or the presence of other animals in or around the grave.

Wild Animals:

Certain wild animals may also dig up graves, although it is less common. These animals are usually scavengers that are searching for food or are attracted to the scent of decay. Examples of wild animals that may dig up graves include:

  • Coyotes: Coyotes are opportunistic scavengers and may dig up graves in search of food. They are known to feed on small mammals, such as rodents, and may be attracted to the scent of decomposing bodies.
  • Foxes: Foxes have a similar scavenging behavior to coyotes and may dig up graves if they detect the presence of food or if they are seeking shelter.
  • Wild boars: In some regions, wild boars are known to dig up graves in search of food. They have a strong sense of smell and can detect buried organic material.


Certain rodents, such as rats or mice, may dig up graves if they detect the presence of food or if they are seeking shelter. These animals are opportunistic feeders and may be attracted to the scent of decomposing bodies or the presence of other organic matter.

Environmental Factors:

In some cases, environmental factors can contribute to the disturbance of graves by animals. For example, heavy rains or flooding can wash away soil, exposing the contents of the grave and potentially attracting animals to the area.

It is important to emphasize that these instances are relatively rare and occur under specific circumstances. Graveyards and cemeteries typically have measures in place to prevent animals from accessing graves, such as fences or other deterrents.

To mitigate the risk of animals digging up graves, cemetery management may employ strategies such as securing the burial site with burial vaults or grave liners. These structures are designed to protect the coffin or casket and prevent animal intrusion.

Real incidences of Animal digging graves.

While animals digging up graves are relatively rare, there have been a few documented cases throughout history. It’s important to note that these incidents are exceptional and not representative of typical animal behavior. Here are a few notable examples:
  1. Hart Island, New York: Hart Island, located in New York City, is a burial site for unclaimed bodies and has witnessed some instances of animal activity. Due to the island’s proximity to wildlife habitats, reports have emerged of raccoons occasionally digging into the gravesites. The presence of food or other attractants may be a contributing factor in these cases.
  2. Historical Accounts: In historical records, there are mentions of animals digging up graves. For instance, during the Black Death in the 14th century, it was reported that stray dogs and wolves would dig up shallow graves in search of food. Similarly, during times of war or famine, animals may scavenge burial sites if resources are scarce.
  3. Natural Disasters: In rare instances, natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, or landslides can disturb graves and expose the contents. This can attract scavenging animals to the area, including wild boars, dogs, or rodents, who may inadvertently disturb the burial sites while searching for food or shelter.

It’s important to highlight that these incidents are isolated and do not reflect the behavior of animals in general. Cemeteries and burial grounds typically take measures to prevent animal intrusion by using burial vaults, grave liners, or other protective structures. These precautions aim to maintain the dignity and sanctity of the burial sites while minimizing the chances of animal disturbances.

Overall, while animals may occasionally interact with gravesites, such occurrences are infrequent, and cemetery management works diligently to safeguard the resting places of the deceased.


In conclusion, while it is uncommon, certain animals may occasionally dig up graves. Dogs, wild animals such as coyotes or foxes, rodents, and environmental factors can contribute to these occurrences. However, it is important to note that cemetery management takes precautions to minimize the chances of animal disturbances and protect the sanctity of graves

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