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How to Get Rid of Groundhogs: 4 Effective Steps

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how to get rid of groundhogs

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are notorious garden invaders. Left untreated, groundhog infestations can cause significant damage to your landscape and property. 

Don’t worry, though – it is possible to get rid of these pests, but you have to act fast.

Here at Pest Dude, we have more than 15 years of experience in the pest control industry, and we’ve compiled our expertise into this comprehensive guide.

Before You Get Started

Learn about groundhog behavior

Understanding groundhog behavior is fundamental to choosing the right time for eviction.

Groundhogs, solitary creatures by nature, are active during daylight hours, primarily during early morning and late afternoon.

Their diet mainly consists of plants, fruits, and vegetables, which makes home gardens a prime target.

Springtime, especially late March through April, is the optimal period for eviction as it precedes the birthing season in early summer.

During this time, groundhogs are less likely to have young in their burrows, making humane removal more straightforward.

Moreover, evicting them as early as possible will help prevent substantial damage to your gardens and yards.

Prioritize safety

Put your personal safety and well-being first. If you’re live-trapping and relocating groundhogs, wear protective gloves and long sleeves to prevent bites and scratches.

Groundhogs have sharp teeth and claws that can transmit diseases or cause infection if the skin is broken.

Understand the law

Compliance with local laws and regulations is critical when dealing with groundhog removal.

Many areas have designated wildlife protection measures in place to protect groundhogs. These laws require residents to obtain permits before attempting any eviction or control measures.

Failure to adhere to these legal stipulations can result in fines or other penalties.

It’s important to contact your local fish and wildlife agency to gather information on the legal methods allowed for groundhog removal and control in your region.

How to Get Rid of Groundhogs: A Step-by-Step Guide

inspect for groundhogs

1. Inspect for groundhogs

Before you can get rid of groundhogs, you need to make sure it’s actually groundhogs (and not another pest) causing problems on your property.

How to do it:

  • Perform a thorough exterior inspection, looking for burrow entrances that are about 6-12 inches in diameter.
  • Check for mounds of dirt near the burrows, which indicate active use.
  • Look for chewed or gnawed plant stems and vegetables, as groundhogs are herbivores.
  • Inspect the area around wood structures like decks and sheds for digging or fresh burrows nearby.
  • Look for live groundhogs, which are most commonly observed in the early morning or late afternoon when they are most active.
  • Examine your garden and landscaping for uneven ground, soft patches, or sinkholes that can be caused by burrowing.
  • Identify any fruit or vegetables that have been eaten, as groundhogs often leave behind a distinct biting pattern – often characterized by a series of small, clean punctures that reflect their sharp incisors.
  • Search for tracks or paw prints in the soil, particularly after rain, as groundhogs have long claws that leave a distinctive mark.
  • Look for worn paths in the grass or vegetation leading to burrow entrances, indicating regular groundhog traffic.

2. Set live traps

live trap

Live trapping is one of the best ways to get rid of groundhogs. When executed properly, a live-trapping program can control a large infestation in a matter of days:

How to do it:

  • Use wire-mesh live traps (like these) and set them in the trail immediately in front of the burrow entrance.
  • Bait your traps with apple slices, lettuce, or carrots.
  • Leave both doors of the trap open, and place logs, twigs, or stones on either side of the path between the burrow and the trap. This will help direct the groundhog into the entrance of the trap.
  • Check your traps twice a day – in the morning and the evening – to make sure any trapped groundhogs are treated humanely.
  • If you live in an area where relocating animals is legal, follow your local laws and regulations to release the animals safely and responsibly.
  • If it’s illegal to relocate animals in your area, euthanize the animals humanely. Learn more about this process here.

3. Make your property less attractive for groundhogs

Once you’ve used fumigants and traps to get rid of individual groundhogs, alter their habitat to make it less likely that the infestation will return.

How to do it:

  • Regularly inspect the areas around your home. Use galvanized mesh wire (like this) to seal any gaps around the foundation of your home or other dig-prone areas.
  • Install fences that are buried at least a foot deep and bend outward at a 90-degree angle to discourage digging.
  • Remove piles of debris or wood where groundhogs could find shelter.
  • Keep gardens and lawns well-maintained to reduce cover and food sources for groundhogs.
  • Remove food sources such as accessible pet food dishes, fruit or vegetable gardens without protective barriers, and bird feeders that may spill onto the ground.
  • Harvest vegetable gardens promptly to avoid attracting groundhogs with ripe produce.

4. Apply repellents

Repellents can make your property less appealing for groundhogs and may help keep them away.

How to do it:

  • Apply a commercial repellent like this one to discourage groundhogs. Follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully for optimal results.
  • Create your own repellents using household ingredients like Epsom salts, garlic, and hot pepper sprays. These can be effective and are a more natural alternative to chemical solutions.

What to use as a Last Resort

Fumigation can be an effective way to get rid of groundhogs, but it should only be used as a last resort.

Note: Fumigating is not an option that should be used around buildings. Instead, it should be used only in more rural settings.

How to do it:

  • Use gas cartridges. When ignited, these cartridges release a large amount of carbon monoxide into the groundhog’s burrow and cause them to die via asphyxiation.
  • Alternatively, you can use tablet fumigants, which contain aluminum phosphide and are registered for woodchucks and other burrowing rodents. If you elect to use these fumigants, only use them when the soil is damp, in the spring and fall, since they rely on the moisture within the soil to release the gas slowly.
  • Use burrow fumigants on cool, rainy days.
  • Recheck fumigated burrows every couple of weeks and re-treat any opened burrows.
  • Do not use fumigants after September since most groundhogs will be hibernating, and their burrows will be walled off, which renders fumigants ineffective.
  • Always use caution when handling burrow fumigants, and be careful to follow all manufacturer directions closely.

When to Hire a Wildlife Control Professional

wildlife control professional

If you’re unsure about handling the situation yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

This is especially important because dealing with a groundhog infestation can be complicated and may require the use of several different approaches.

Here’s what Zach Smith, the Founder of Pest Dude, has to say about the process:

When we’re dealing with just a few groundhogs, it’s usually easiest to trap them. But with larger populations we sometimes use a fumigant injected into their burrows. We will also use galvanized wire mesh to screen off areas where they are prone to digging.”

While getting rid of groundhogs on your own can be tough, bringing in a professional is a great way to make sure you’re using the right combination of approaches to get rid of these pests quickly.

If your groundhog issue is persistent despite your efforts or if you feel out of your depth in managing the situation, reach out to Pest Dude, and we’ll connect you with a reputable wildlife professional: (844) 532-0076.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Waste Your Time on These Unproven Methods

1. Dogs

Introducing natural predators, like dogs, isn’t a great way to get rid of groundhogs.

In addition to the fact that groundhogs have sharp teeth and can deliver a nasty bite, they may spread diseases to your pets.

2. Flooding burrows

Attempting to flood burrows with water is not only ineffective but could also lead to soil erosion and property damage.

3. Ammonia

Using mothballs or ammonia-soaked rags – these substances are toxic and can harm other wildlife and pets, and even contaminate soil and groundwater.

4. Ultrasonic repellents

Employing ultrasonic pest repellers, which have not been proven effective and can be a nuisance to pets.

5. Human hair and urine

Placing human hair or urine around gardens likely won’t work. These methods lack scientific support and will likely cost you more time and effort than they’re worth.

Are Groundhogs Destroying Your Garden? We Can Help!

Is groundhog damage getting you down?

Don’t worry, help has arrived.

Whether your DIY efforts have failed or you want a faster, more hands-off solution, hiring a professional is a great idea.

Here at Pest Dude, we work with a wide network of pest management professionals around the country.

Contact us at (844) 532-0076, and we’ll connect you with one of our vetted pest control experts. 

zachary smith no bg

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Groundhogs Control FAQs

Groundhogs are herbivores that primarily feed on a variety of vegetation. Their diet consists of grasses, plants, fruits, and vegetables. 

They are particularly fond of alfalfa, dandelions, and clover. In agricultural areas, groundhogs may also consume crops such as lettuce, beans, peas, and carrots. Although less common, they might occasionally eat small insects or snails.

In the wild, groundhogs usually live an average of about five years. However, in ideal conditions, they can live much longer—up to 14 years. Factors such as predation, habitat, and food availability can influence their lifespan in natural settings.

Groundhogs can cause significant damage to gardens and crops due to their voracious appetites. Their burrowing activities can also weaken foundations and other structures, leading to potential hazards.

Generally, groundhogs won’t leave on their own. Because they’re always seeking reliable sources of food and shelter, they won’t leave until territorial disputes or control efforts force them out. Because of this, it’s best to proactively manage their presence to avoid ongoing issues.

zachary smith crop

Author Bio: Zachary Smith

Zachary Smith is the founder of PestDude.com. Zachary is a licensed pest control professional with 20+ years of hands on experience eradicating pests from homes and businesses. Zachary earned his Bachelor of Science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2002. He specializes in rodent and insect infestation management of structures and landscapes. His passion is to share his extensive knowledge with the world.

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