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How to get rid of groundhogs?

Depending on what type of garden or farm you run and the number of groundhogs you're dealing with, your approach to removal might differ.

December 27, 2021

23 min read time

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Groundhogs or Woodchucks are among the most intrusive and aggressive borrowing pets any garden or yard owner might have the displeasure of dealing with.

Don’t let their boxy and cute exterior fool you.

These little monsters are a menace when they really get going. They’ll eat through your vegetable garden in days, clearing out months and months of careful work, all in a bid to store body fat for the coming winter.

Getting rid of groundhogs is not an easy task.

Without professional help, it can almost seem like they’re impossible to remove, but in this guide, we’ll show you how to get rid of groundhogs and preserve your garden.

What are Groundhogs, and how do you identify them?

It’s important to understand what type of creatures Ground Hogs are before you mount any significant effort to remove them.

Groundhogs are stocky creatures with powerful legs for climbing trees. They also have brownish-gray fur, beady black eyes, and large buck teeth for chewing through crops at a startling speed.

The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, is a fairly large rodent and can reach from 12 inches to 27 inches long and weigh 5-14 pounds in adulthood.

In perfect summers, they can reach up to 31 pounds. They have a lifespan of about 6-14 years, depending on their environment.

Groundhogs are indigenous to Canada and the southern U.S.A and are categorized as rodents. They belong to the squirrel family, though they look very different from their close cousins in notable ways.

Why are groundhogs called whistle-pig?

If you’ve read up on the groundhog, you might have discovered that the rodent goes by various names. One of its more peculiar ones, whistle pig, is inspired by the sound it makes when it’s discovered.

It lets out a high-pitched scream that serves as a warning to other groundhogs in the area. Because the sound is similar to the whistle, it got the interesting name whistle pig.

Woodchuck, the other popular name the groundhog goes by, has nothing to do with wood. The name’s origin is “Wuchak,” which is what the Algonquin people called groundhogs.

Will groundhogs attack humans?

Groundhogs spend most of their days in their burrows and only emerge every few hours to explore and gather food.

They are timid creatures and will go out of their ways to avoid all they perceive as predators, returning to their dens at the first sign of a threat.

However, when they’re cornered, they might lash out.

Another reason why a groundhog might lash out is a rabies infestation. Infected groundhogs can be dangerous, going out of their way to bite you or provoke you.

A bite is not the biggest threat of a rabies-infected groundhog. They can transmit diseases through bite and touch. It is advised you wear thick clothing and gloves when you’re trying to get rid of groundhogs.

(Groundhog Damage)

How do you get rid of groundhogs?

There is a multitude of ways to get rid of groundhogs.

Depending on what type of garden or farm you run and the number of groundhogs you’re dealing with, your approach to removal might differ slightly.

1. Repellents

This is the most effective and cost-effective approach to get rid of your groundhog problem.

Groundhogs are attracted to areas with dense vegetation and healthy crops, so removing them is often not as simple as attacking their burrows.

Liquid or granule-based repellents containing fox or coyote urine are a great non-confrontational way to drive groundhogs away from the burrows and get them off your property. These methods would be preferable if you have children, dogs, or any other pet living in your home, as toxic repellents can be quite dangerous.

They have a keen sense of smell, and the repellent capitalizes on that. They’re likely to leave your gardens, driven away by fear alone.

However, note that repellents might wash away easily and shine best when combined with other potent preventive measures.

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2. Trapping

Setting up a live trap is another efficient way to combat a groundhog infestation.

If you pair them with repellents or other creative solutions, you have no problems getting rid of groundhogs on your property.

Trapping also allows you to nip a potential rodent infestation before it really spreads.

By trapping groundhogs during springtimes, you can keep them from breeding and save yourself the headache of dealing with five more in the summer.

It’s also easier to trap them in the spring. They’ll be hungry, fresh off hibernation, and will be generally less cautious.

Types of Groundhog traps

There are two main types of woodchuck traps: Live and Lethal traps.

The former is designed to restrain a groundhog, while the latter will either injure or kill them.

3. Live Traps

Live traps are often cages with robust wire meshing and a metal frame that prevents groundhogs from chewing through them with their sharp incisors and teeth. You want the live trap you go for to be very spacious, with dimensions of 24 inches or larger to appear more inviting.

If you’re going the live trapping route, it means you intend on releasing the animal back into the wilderness after a sufficient distance from your home.

Note that you might have to get a permit and check with the state laws before you plan trapping and relocation. They are illegal in most states.

Pro tips for setting live traps

Read the manual that comes with your live trap before you pace the trap. Ensure you fully understand how it works to get the best use out of it.

  • Wear gloves when you’re handling the cage. As we mentioned, groundhogs have a keen sense of smell. They might be tipped off by your scent alone and avoid the trap.
  • Keep gloves keep your fingers safe when you’re working with traps. Some traps are spring-loaded and are particularly dangerous for first-time users.
  • Place your trap near your vegetable garden or groundhog burrows entrances, and disguise them with branches, leaves, and dirt.
  • Remember to use good bait when you set the trap. Spring for their choice vegetables and roots, and you’re more likely to trap them.
  • Check the trap every day or half-day. Groundhogs will get dehydrated, injure themselves trying to escape, and might even die trying to escape your trap if you leave them long enough.
  • Set the groundhog loose at least five miles away from your garden, or they’re likely to return.

Lethal Traps

Most states ban the use of lethal traps on rodents and animals, but even if you happen to live in a state where it’s available, you might need a trapping license to use it.

Alternative solutions and methods to groundhog control

DIY repellents are also a great option if you have some time on your hands. They are considerably cheaper than store-bought repellent, and some of the ingredients you typically need are most likely around your home.

1. Blood Meal

Blood meal or dry blood meals serve a double function.

They are great fertilizers for plants and serve as a strong deterrent for herbivores like groundhogs. Sprinkling it around your yard and near a groundhog, borrow will help you repel them.

2. Epsom salts

Sprinkling Epsom salt around your garden is a safe and natural way to repel groundhogs.

They particularly hate the taste and smell of it, and salting their favorite foods, burrow entrances, and playgrounds will only serve to irritate them more.

Set up small bowls filled with salt around your property if you plan to go the salting routes. You might have to resalt several times before they take the hint and leave.

. Cat litter

From handling it first hand, you should already know how potent kitty litter can be. For creatures with a keen smell of smell like groundhogs, they can be doubly nasty.

Pour down cat litter down the entrances of their burrows when you find them on your property. Within a few days, it should get rid of them.

4. Garlic

Groundhogs aren’t a fan of all vegetables.

They particularly dislike garlic because of its pungent and overpowering smell. Grow garlic in our garden, or sprinkle them around areas where you’ve noticed groundhog activity. In time, they might learn to stay away from your garden or leave altogether.

We don’t recommend this method if you have a dog. Garlic is poisonous to them.

5. Pepper

Using pepper as a repellent is a particularly vicious and effective method of groundhog control.

Just like pepper is irritating our eyes and noses, they can be just as bad for rodents, if not worse, because of their keen sense of smell.

Get a spray bottle with some chopped up or ground pepper, add water, and spray their habitat and stomping ground routinely to get the most of this method.

6. Using ultrasonic noise

Ultrasonic noise and vibrations will scare away most digging pests.

You can invest in solar stakes that send pulses into the ground and shake it their burrow every few minutes or so. It will make them think they’re under attack and seek help somewhere else, preferably from your property.

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When to call a professional?

When the solutions, repellents, and preventive solutions stop working. Groundhogs can be relentless. Though they’re cowards, they won’t easily abandon a sure source of food, shelter, and safety. They might return several times over.

If you’ve tried everything or are reluctant to confront them, you can hire a professional to get rid of them for you.