By Maduka Nweke
Groundhogs are primarily a pest species due to their burrowing habits. They often live under a shed or porch, and can move a lot of soil. They are also herbivores, and can eat your garden or other plants.
Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are large, ground-dwelling rodents. Adults average about ten pounds. They are strictly vegetarians, as many people know, based on the damage in their garden. Groundhogs dig large, complex, interconnecting burrows. They are excellent & prolific diggers. Each spring, a female gives birth to 4-6 young. Groundhogs are true hibernators in the northern parts of their range. The spring emergence always occurs exactly on February 2nd. Oftentimes the groundhog will engage in a behavior known as shadow spotting. Well, perhaps that’s not true, but they do emerge in he springtime and resume their digging patterns.
Nuisance concerns: The primary problem encountered with groundhogs involves their propensity to dig. They can and do move a lot of dirt, and when this digging occurs near a human structure, such as under a concrete deck, the absence of supporting dirt can lead to a vulnerable foundation prone to cracking. The secondary concern is the groundhog’s appetite, and the damage it can cause to crops. Many people wish to remove this animal before their garden is destroyed. Like all rodents, the groundhog’s teeth grown continually, and thus this mammal must gnaw, but this isn’t usually a problem for property owners.
The best way to handle a woodchuck problem is via trapping and removal. If you try to simply fill in their burrows, they will dig their way out. If you attempt to use a repellent, the animals will either ignore it or simply dig elsewhere. There’s really no solution outside of trapping and removal.
Top 10 Tips for How to Get Rid of Groundhogs / Woodchucks:
If the groundhogs are under your house or shed, inspect the structure to identify the entry points – you’ll need to seal these areas shut after the animals are gone.
If the groundhogs are living under a shed, deck, or porch, you’ll need to install a steel exclusion barrier around the perimeter to keep them out. Be sure to bury it at least a foot under ground, with the bottom of the steel fence curving outward, away from the structure.
If you’ve installed a barrier, leave one section open to set a trap or a one-way exclusion door to get the woodchuck out.
When trapping, use a large sturdy steel cage trap, at least 12″x12″x32″. Always set the trap in the shade, to prevent overheating. Make sure the trap is on a solid, level surface.
Set a trap at a burrow site, and bait with fresh vegetables like broccoli or peas or corn on the cob. Don’t use the old apple and peanut butter method!
The best time to trap is in early spring, when the animal is hungry, and there is less food, and before it has babies, which will increase the number of animals on your property.
If a possum is eating your garden or other plants you will need to fence these things in. You can buy good fencing materials at Home Depot or any other hardware store. Be sure to bury the perimeter of the fence or stake it down.
It may not be legal for you to trap and relocate possums in your state, but if it is, and if you can do it yourself release them at five miles away from your property to keep them from returning.
Repellent products, such as mothball or urine granules or powders, have no demonstrated effectiveness in keeping groundhogs away. However, an aggressive dog might work.
You can fill in any open burrows, but if there is an animal present, it will re-open them again. Better to fill them after the animal(s) are gone.
Wondering how to get rid of groundhogs? There is no magic spray or device that you can use to make them go away. Some people try to sell predator urine, such as coyote or fox urine to get rid of woodchucks, but that doesn’t work. They also try to sell ultrasonic sound emitters. These devices are worthless at eliminating groundhogs. Some old wives’ tales recommend the use of mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags to make them leave, but I’ve been to countless homes where these techniques failed – biologists know that these attempts won’t work. The ONE AND ONLY WAY to take care of your problem is with trapping and removal of the animals. You can try sprinking epsom salts or putrid egg whites or super spciy sauce on plants you don’t want them to chew, but that doesn’t always work, and they usually find plenty of alternatives. If you need to find a professional trapper in your hometown, just click our comprehensive list of hundreds of wildlife removal professionals, and you can have your problem quickly taken care of. This woodchuck was captured by my good friend Bruce, who lives on Massachusetts. The critter was digging under his porch and eating his plants, and he finally decided that it had to go. He called me to ask for my expert advice. I carefully described a trap consisting of an apple under cardboard box propped up by a stick to which a string is tied.
How to Get Rid of Groundhogs in the Garden
Groundhogs in a garden area trouble, not only because they eat the vegetables you’ve spent all season growing, but because they usually have a burrow system nearby. If you’ve got a groundhog destroying your plants, your only real option is to have the animal trapped and removed. Groundhogs can’t be poisoned, and there are no reliable deterrents on the market. To get rid of a groundhog in the garden, you need to decide if you want to trap the animal alive or dead. A live groundhog can be relocated a few miles away without worry of it returning. The downside is that you run the risk of potential injury to yourself or the animal. Groundhogs are one of the top known carriers of rabies in certain areas of the country and should be handled with caution. Lethal trapping is accomplished with body gripping traps, and can be just as humane a method as live trapping. No matter what trap you use, place it near the groundhog’s burrow or in the garden. Bait the trap and wait. Eventually the groundhog will be drawn to the food inside the trap, securing its capture.