Discover everything you need to know about groundhogs in our guide below.

Marmota monax

What Are Groundhogs?

Groundhogs (sometimes called Woodchucks), scientifically known as Marmota monax, are rodents that belong to the squirrel family. 

Characterized by their stout bodies, short legs, and bushy tails, they are brown and can weigh up to 14 pounds. 

Groundhogs are known for their extensive burrowing habits, creating large, complex underground networks that can disturb gardens, undermine building foundations, and damage farm crops.

The Behavior, Diet, and Habits of Groundhogs

Groundhogs are primarily diurnal, meaning they are most active during the day, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon. 

Groundhogs are solitary animals with a strong territorial instinct. They communicate through various sounds, including barks and shrieks, especially when feeling threatened or during the mating season.

Groundhogs eat vegetation, including grasses and fruits, and – in the spring and summer – garden crops like carrots, peas, and beans. They’re also known for their exceptional digging skills and their long, curved claws. Their burrows, which can be as long as 30 feet, include multiple chambers for nesting, sleeping, and raising young. 

Groundhogs hibernate during the winter months and enter their breeding season shortly after emerging from hibernation around early spring. 

groundhogs behavior
damage groundhogs cause

What Damage Do Groundhogs Cause?

Groundhogs can cause damage that impacts agricultural areas, gardens, and even structural stability.

When their populations are out of control, they can decimate vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and ornamental plants. 

To make matters worse, their diet isn’t limited to plant life; groundhogs may gnaw on and damage irrigation systems and other farming equipment in search of materials for their dens or simply out of curiosity.

The burrowing activities of groundhogs can also undermine the stability of buildings, decks, and other structures. 

A large groundhog burrow with multiple entrance and exit points can significantly disturb the soil structure, which can cause uneven ground, tripping hazards, and potential structural damage, including shifting, cracking, or weakening foundations. 

Additionally, the holes and mounds of dirt left by these burrows can ruin pristine lawns and become a nightmare for homeowners and business owners. 

Finally, groundhogs carry rabies and other diseases, which can pose a significant health risk to pets and humans. 

How to Get Rid of Groundhogs

The first step to getting rid of groundhogs is to eliminate their sources of food and shelter. Install fencing around vegetable gardens or any other plants you want to protect. 

For best results, fences should be a few feet high and buried at least a foot deep to prevent groundhogs from climbing over or digging underneath.

Commercial repellents specifically designed for groundhogs can also be an effective deterrent, as can homemade remedies, such as a mixture of garlic and hot peppers.

If groundhogs persist, live trapping is a humane way to remove them from your property. If you use this option, learn about local wildlife laws and regulations and check all traps daily to ensure trapped groundhogs are relocated promptly. 

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No! And even worse, groundhogs can cause significant damage to gardens, crops, and landscaping through their feeding habits. 

Additionally, their burrowing can result in structural damage to buildings and create hazards that wreak havoc on your property. Because of this, you have to be proactive about addressing groundhog infestations. 

Humane methods include live traps, exclusion techniques like fencing, and natural repellents. It’s important to check local regulations regarding the humane trapping and relocation of groundhogs.

Yes, natural predators include foxes, hawks, and coyotes. However, relying solely on natural predation is not reliable for controlling groundhog populations.

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