Getting Rid of a Groundhog

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When most people imagine a groundhog, they usually think of Punxsutawney Phil, the cuddly groundhog that gives us a sign of Spring. However, if this cuddly, 12-pound rodent is digging up your lawn, destroying your garden, under your house or patio, you are not thinking “cuddly”; you’re thinking “how do I get rid of this thing?”

Groundhog Facts

The groundhog has a compact, stout body, with short legs and a short, bristly tail. With curved claws and long forefeet, they are very proficient diggers.  They are about 20 to 27 inches long and weight between 5 to 12 pounds.

They feed in the early morning and evening hours eating vegetables like soybeans, beans, peas, lettuce, cabbage, zucchini, carrots with the tops, and grasses.  Fact, if you have a vegetable garden, you can assume that your groundhog problem is not going away without some major coaching.

If you are lucky, you may only have to utilize some preventive measure to control the animal.  If you are not lucky, and damage is severe, getting rid of the groundhog may be the only solution.


Options To Getting Rid of the Groundhog

There are different options that you can employ to get rid of a groundhog. However, the best time to get rid of a groundhog is during the spring, just when they are awakening from hibernation, which is late February, early March. Why? This will allow you to get a clear view of their 6 to 10 inch burrow opening, without the vegetation concealing the entrance. Once you found the opening, you can use some following options to get rid of the groundhog.

1. Use live traps. Live traps should be 10 X 10 X 24 inches and placed in the burrow's entrance or at the site of damage. Place apples, cantaloupe, fresh peas, lettuce, cabbage and carrots with tops as live bait within the trap. You may think this sounds simple, but it can be difficult if food is abundant.

Once the animal is caught in the live trap, it is recommended that you transport it at least 10 miles away from its normal habitat.

2. Use smoke bombs. If the animal is not living directly next to your home, you can use smoke "bombs" containing sulfur dioxide or carbon monoxide.

Place the bomb into the burrow opening, and then cover the opening with dirt and rocks. The bomb will emit sulfur dioxide or carbon monoxide smoke for a few minutes, killing the woodchuck inside.

3. Shoot the groundhog. Each state has different laws regulating the shooting of a groundhog. In some states, if the critter is causing damage to your property you can shoot it. However, in other states you may be required to get a hunting license before shooting it. (It is considered a game animal).


Options To Control Groundhog Damage

In most cases, the first choice of any homeowner is to get rid of a groundhog. However, once you have gotten rid of the pest, it is wise to try and protect yourself from any further groundhog damage. Here are some different options you can try to control a groundhog:

1. Try predator odor repellents. At the base of trees, you can spray bobcat, fox or coyote urine. The repellents will deter the rodent from gnawing on the base of the tree.

2.Use mesh fencing, with electric wire around your garden. If you use mesh fencing around your garden, you will need to bury the lower edge of the fence 12 inches in the ground with the lower 6 inches bent at an L-shaped angle leading outward. The fence should be at least 3 feet high.

Above the fence, you can place an electric wire. When the electric wire is attached to the charge, it will prevent the groundhog from climbing or burrowing to get at your vegetables. Not only does it keep a woodchuck out of your garden, but also it can keep rabbits, dogs, cats, and other animals out of the garden area. However, if you do install an electrical wire, be sure to clear any vegetation that may start forming on the fence. This can cause the electrical system to short out.

3. Use strong smelling flowers, such as daffodils and marigolds around your garden. The strong smell from the flowers can disguise the scent of the vegetables.

4. You can plant onions, garlic and turnips on the outer edges of your garden. Again, the strong smell will disguise the scent of the vegetables.

5. Use a scarecrow, motion-activated water sprinkling device. Since the animal is usually shy, this motion-activated sprinkling device may scare him enough that he will not enter your garden.

6. Edge your garden with low shrubbery, like Barberry. The woodchuck finds the barberry roots to be distasteful and the thorny bush difficult to get over.

What Worked For Us

When we first encountered our own groundhog problem, we were not sure what type of animal was eating from our garden and stripping the bases of our trees. However, the latter question was answered one morning when my husband stood face to face with a hissing groundhog outside our shed. My husband, ill prepared to do battle with the groundhog, backed away and came back at a time when the groundhog was out searching for food.

We found his burrow entrance nestled on the backside of the shed, shielded by brush. We set a trap using sheep mineral granules and bananas as bait. (I know it is a strange combination, but a farmer, who was having trouble with groundhogs on his own property, suggested the formula.) Well, it worked. We caught the very unpleasant animal and sent it packing 10 miles away.

To conclude, to get rid of a groundhog problem, you have to be creative and open to trying different strategies. In fact, you may find that you will have to employ both strategies, getting rid of, as well as, using methods to control these destructive pests.

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Comments 9 comments

vwriter profile image

vwriter 5 years ago from US Author

Thank you. And your comment, absolutely hilarious. :)


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Great tips! Oh, those groundhogs...


vwriter profile image

vwriter 5 years ago from US Author

Thanks Simone.


peanutroaster profile image

peanutroaster 4 years ago from New England

A westie or other terrier has been known to attack ground hogs and snap their necks. That's what they were breed for.


vwriter profile image

vwriter 4 years ago from US Author

Interesting. I do know that my terrier has successfully tackled a mole. I'm not all that sure if I want her to tackle a ground hog. Thanks for visiting peanutroaster.


peanutroaster profile image

peanutroaster 4 years ago from New England

I know, I wouldn't want my Westie to tussle with a ground hog but I've heard tales told that they win.


vwriter profile image

vwriter 4 years ago from US Author

I also heard tells that some people train their dogs to hunt pests like ground hogs, moles, etc. for a living. They use the dogs to find and bring out the critter and the trainer/pest exterminator does the rest.


pestcontrolproduc profile image

pestcontrolproduc 3 years ago

My experience has been that "smoking out" groundhogs just doesn't work. Their tunnels have multiple openings, so the groundhog may simply surface somewhere you don't notice. Even if the toxic gas kills the groundhog, you can never know for sure.

A bigger problem is that the carbon monoxide or sulfur dioxide will work too well, killing a pet, or a neighbor's pet, or drifting into a basement. Sulfure dioxide is heavier than air, and will tend to stay in the burrow, but carbon monoxide is lighter than air and is more likely to poison you than the groundhog.


vwriter profile image

vwriter 3 years ago from US Author

Interesting thoughts on the matter pestcontrolproduc, I found trapping a ground hog and moving it elsewhere to the most humane. For farmers, they are more likely to shoot the ground hog, and in most cases, they do have a gaming license, and if they don't, they probably hope they don't get caught. Thanks for visiting.

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