Groundhog’s Day is a fun, quirky, North American tradition. However, we don’t really want groundhogs to have their day in our yards! These hungry, little creatures can be quite destructive to grass and plants.
Groundhogs are a part of the marmot family; mammals that are large ground squirrels. They can weigh as much as 13 pounds and be as long as 20 inches (not including the tail!). You can find groundhogs all over North America. You don’t need to worry about a groundhog invasion during the winter since they hibernate.
Don’t let their vegetarian lifestyle fool you. Groundhogs are hefty eaters! They can eat more than one pound of grass, leaves, bark, and tree buds in one sitting during the summer!
Groundhogs dig deep and elaborate burrows. In addition to being master diggers, they can also climb and swim. They are usually solitary animals, except for when they have babies in the spring. Groundhog litters usually have 4-6 pups that stay with their mother for 2-3 months.
Are Groundhogs Dangerous?
Groundhogs tend to be pretty timid. However, they have been known to host ticks and fleas, and occasionally have rabies. They may show a fierce side when cornered. Do not allow your dog or cat to attempt to chase a groundhog into a burrow.
Signs of Groundhogs
Groundhog burrows can be up to 6 feet deep and 20 feet across with multiple entrances. Groundhogs don’t go very far from their burrows, so if you spot one, it’s probably close to home. They are voracious eaters and will do some serious damage to your plants, grass, and garden.
How to Catch a Groundhog
Check local laws and regulations before you trap and relocate any wildlife!
Pick a Trap
Groundhogs are pretty large, so you’ll need a good-sized trap, like this one. This type of trap has spring-loaded doors to safely trap the groundhog after it steps on the trip plate. It’s important to pick a trap with heavy-duty metal, so the groundhog can’t chew its way out.
Place a Trap
Look for groundhog burrow entrances in your yard. Remember, they like to stick close to their burrows. Make sure the trap is on level ground, and near a burrow entrance. If the groundhog is avoiding your trap, try camouflaging the trap with branches, sticks, and grass.
Set a Trap
The most popular groundhog bait is cantaloupe! You can also use sunflower seeds, clover, peanut butter, or whatever it’s been munching on from your garden. If you have a 2-door trap, place the bait in the center of the trap. For a 1-door trap, place the bait at the end of the trap away from the door.
Set the trap according to your trap’s instructions. Then, you watch and wait! Check the trap frequently.
Empty a Trap
It’s best to pick a trap with external handles for easy handling. Place a blanket or towel over the trap to keep the groundhog calm. Always use heavy gloves when handling a trap with a live animal in it!
Relocate the groundhog to an area at least 5 miles away. It will be more likely to dig a new burrow in an area with trees and brush cover.
You probably have several effective groundhog repellents in your home, already! Dog, cat or human hair will repel groundhogs. A dog or cat that wanders the yard will also scare away groundhogs.
This groundhog deterrent uses vibrations to scare away groundhogs. They are naturally timid and don’t like to have their homes vibrate and shake.
These repellent granules use castor oil to repel groundhogs and other burrowing pests. The granules permeate the soil, and the groundhogs won’t want to dig! They are safe to use on grass and plants.
Groundhogs hate the smell of pepper and garlic! Sprinkle it near the burrows. Make a spray out of pepper, garlic, and water, and spray any plants that the groundhogs like to snack on. You will need to reapply the spray periodically.
To keep groundhogs out of your yard, you need a fence that is buried at least two feet underground and is at least three feet tall. If your goal is to keep them out of a specific garden area, you can create a smaller fenced area with chicken wire.
Bury the chicken wire at least two feet underground. Curve the underground portion of the wire away from your garden, so the groundhog can’t tunnel under the garden.
If your yard is home to a groundhog and his voracious appetite, it can be very destructive! Follow these instructions to trap and relocate your backyard pest. Once they are gone, you can take measures to make sure your yard isn’t attractive to any future groundhog visitors.