How to get rid of groundhogs

Best known for their supposed ability to predict spring weather and giving Bill Murray Déjà vu, the groundhog is one of the most notorious garden pests in the Eastern US. These large rodents may look adorable and have a generally laid-back demeanor, but they’ll devour your entire garden before you know it.

You may be wondering if this critter is the one hanging out in your backyard and more importantly, how to get rid of groundhogs once you know they’re there. Read on to learn if this rodent has moved onto your property  and how to get him back off of it.

5 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs

These are all non-lethal groundhog solutions even though some of them might, by chance, eliminate them. However, this is not their designation. Let’s have a look.

1. Set up a Trap

Of course, this is an effective method of taking care of the groundhog issue but it’s only going to work if there isn’t an infestation. If you had to deal with an infestation, setting up a trap is definitely not going to be as effective as other solutions. After all, a single catch trap is going to do just this – it’s going to get rid of one groundhog, what about the remaining 10?

2. Build a FenceAn elderly man with a drill builds metal fence

Arguably one of the most effective ways to prevent infestation. The first thing that you need to understand is that woodchucks are burrowers – they are going to ensure that you get under your fence if they had to. That’s why you can take advantage of metal underground installation. They don’t go so deep – there is no need to worry. Just make sure that they are laid down conveniently and the groundhog problem is not even going to come to your backyard.

3. Deter Them with Scent

AS it is with other underground varmints, adult groundhogs have very strong scent sensors. This is also the main reason for which you can take advantage of this and repel them off with a range of different solutions. Cat litter, human hair as well as ammonia – all of these are particularly effective and they are going to get rid of the rodents effectively. They are also going to have a negative impact on baby groundhogs so you can effectively handle that threat as well.

4. Flush Them Out

Remember how we said that there are certain natural remedies which are also capable of killing the animal? Well, flooding their burrows is one of these. If the woodchuck fails to get out on time, the water is going to drown it, it’s as simple as that. However, as they are going to sense the water coming far ahead, they are likely to be able to escape.

5. Eliminate Attractants

Apart from eliminating the attractants, you might also be able to effectively plant some of their favorite food sources away from your yard. This is going to redirect the pest, so to speak, and it’s going to help you get rid of it effectively. It’s undoubtedly one of the best ways to handle them without harming the animal while ensuring maximum protection at the same time.

Ae mentioned, hungry woodchucks can cause quite a lot of damage and sometimes you might have to eliminate the animal. However, keep in mind that this is usually going to be a lot burdensome than dealing with the woodchuck problem in a non-lethal way.

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4 Lethal Solutions

1. Fumigation

Fumigation, as the name suggests, requires the usage of lethal fumes which are going to kill the animals while they are in their burrows. This is best performed with the use of a cartridge and it’s surely something that you might want to consult a professional about.

2. Using lethal Traps

As we mentioned above, if you have an issue with a separate animal, which is rarely the case, trapping it might be a good idea. As there are non-lethal groundhog solutions in this regard, there are also lethal ones that you might prefer. However, you should most definitely check if this is actually allowed in your state as not all of them allow it.

3. Poisoning the Groundhogs

This is by far one of the most effective and the best anti-rodent remedy as it is definitely going to help you get rid of them quickly. However, as it is with other lethal methods, you need to ensure that it’s not forbidden by law as you can get in trouble if it is. This is certainly something to consider.

4. Shoot Them

It’s exactly as it sounds. You will have to use their favorite foods as baits and then wait for them to come out and just pull the trigger. It’s as easy as this. It might take some time but it’s an effective lethal method of handling the rodent.

Also, there are certain repellents which are particularly effective. They are recommended by a lot of professionals and they might be something that you want to take into account when it comes to it. They include:

  • Woodstream Live Animal Cage Trap.
  • Duke Double Spring Body Trap Jaw Spread.
  • The Giant Destroyer.
  • Shake-Aways All Natural Small Critter Repellent.
  • Hoont Powerful Ultrasonic Outdoor Repeller.

In any case, there are quite a lot of different groundhog control methods that you can employ, depending on the outcome that you want to achieve. This is something that you might want to take into proper account when it comes to it and you need to make sure that you choose wisely. It’s also something which is going to ensure that you have no future issues with these varmints. Make sure that you choose carefully, though, because this is something which is going to have an impact on your entire garden and as such you need to do your best.

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Areas of damage

The issues which could be caused by groundhogs are numerous. This is why we’ve taken the liberty of providing you with some of the most common ones for you to consider.

  • They can severely damage crops such as beans, melons and alfalfa.
  • They can eat up the grass of your lawn as well as your beautiful clover.
  • They are known to chew through electrical wires as well as water supply piping and tubing.
  • They are known to dig holes as well as to create burrows which can jeopardize the integrity of the soil, loosening up the foundations of different structures and genuinely devastating your plants.

Obviously, this is a menace that you have to take into account. With this in mind, we want to show you the easiest ways of getting rid of those rodents. Let’s go ahead and take a look at 13 home remedies as well as the most convenient ways of handling a groundhog invasion.

1. Sudsy ammonia

Find a nice and warm sunny day and take about 3 cups of sudsy ammonia. Pour the solution in the burrow which is created by the groundhog and watch them come out immediately. If they don’t, however, you might want to repeat this another day. If you don’t have it available, you can mix a glass of water alongside 2 cups of regular ammonia and spoons of detergent. Always wear gloves while doing this.

2. Havahart trap

Groundhogs are particularly easy to attract to areas where there are lettuce leaves as well as fruits such as apples, for instance. This is why it’s particularly easy to trap rodents of this particular kind. The Havahart trap is an easy solution that you can take advantage of.

3. Get a dog

This is by far amongst the easiest ways that you can employ in order to get rid of groundhogs and woodchuck. Of course, you need to tame the dog and if you don’t know who to do so you can easily leave it to someone who does. This is going to make the entire process even easier.

4. Eliminate all the attractants

As far as prevention goes, eliminating the attractants is definitely going to help you out. Groundhogs like to make their burrows where there is an ample natural shelter and it’s best if you remove all piles of dirt and rocks for that matter. Also, if you have bushes as well as smaller plants, this might also attract them so make sure that they are properly maintained and cut.

5. Mud

Mud is another DIY home deterrent. All you need to do here is to fill their burrows with mud over and over again. Even though it’s a tiring and rather lengthy process, the groundhog is going to get exhausted of digging it up again and again and it’s going to leave the entire area.

6. Garlic

As most of the underground rodents, woodchucks also get irritated by strong smells. This is something which is going to cause them to leave the burrow quicker than you thought. With this in mind, you might want to spread garlic paste on cloves as well as in their burrows.

7. Proper fencing

This is something which is going to effectively protect your entire garden from further trespassing of groundhogs. Once you manage to get those rodents out of your yard or if they haven’t invaded yet, make sure to secure your garden with the proper fencing.

8. Planting a food source outside your yard

It makes sense, doesn’t it? When you plant their favorite food somewhere far from your yard, this is definitely going to attract them and keep your garden out of harm’s way.

9. Talcum powder

You can conveniently sprinkle talcum powder on the boundaries of your garden as well as in their burrows to get rid of them quickly.

10. Pepper – using red pepper flakes

Either use those tiny little red pepper flakes or use a pepper spray to get rid of groundhogs.

11. Fumigation

Fumigation remains one of the best anti-rodent remedy that you can take advantage of regardless of the type of animal you are up against. It is usually performed with the help of a cartridge of gas which is filled with carbon monoxide.

12. Cat litter

You can put cat litter into the hole of the woodchuck if you want to get rid of it. Make it muddy by mixing it up with some water.

13. Human hair

It is far more likely for groundhogs to actually resent the smell of people. This is why human hair remains one of the most effective ways to get rid of them. Sprinkle it around your garden and this is definitely going to chase them away.

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The do’s and don’ts

There are a few things that you might want to do and a few that you need to avoid. Let’s have a look.

• What to do

  • Use the favorite food of the groundhog as a convenient bait against them
  • Check with your local laws in order to determine that using the aforementioned methods are actually legal
  • Clean and maintain your lawn regularly

• What not to do

  • Do not kill the animal when you capture it. Instead, leave it somewhere far away from your home.

As you can see, there are quite a few things that you might want to take into proper consideration when it comes to it. These are the most convenient remedies that you can take advantage of at home in order to get rid of this burdensome pest.

Identifying Groundhogs

These big creatures are actually close relatives of squirrels, despite their size. They can be very shy and are rarely aggressive unless cornered. Because they are one of 14 different marmot species, it can be easy to confuse them with other common pests.

These critters live 3-4 years in the wild and have an average life expectancy of 6-8 years (14 year old groundhogs have been documented in captivity) and rarely stray more than 150 feet from their burrow, making a resident groundhog a long-term tenant.

What do Groundhogs Look Like?

Picture a giant squirrel with a short tail and you’ll have a good starting image. In fact, they are a part of the squirrel family and have the ability to both climb and swim. Their two coats of fur are shades of brown and sometimes grey, with occasional instances of albinos or nearly black fur. Their feet are covered in dark brown or black fur and are good digging tools.

A somewhat unusual quality among rodents, groundhog incisors don’t protrude when their mouths are closed and tend to be whitish instead of the common brownish-yellow of most rodent teeth. On average, groundhogs measure 1 to 2.5 feet long and weigh 7 to 13 pounds, although they can potentially grow to be 24 inches (3 feet) long and weigh as much as 30 pounds when in an area with few predators.

Getting Rid of Groundhogs

There are a lot of methods for getting rid of groundhogs and woodchucks, but some are a lot more effective than you might expect. Here are some of the most popular ways to evict a groundhog from your property (and keep them out).

Relocation

One of the best ways to get rid of groundhogs is to find them another place to live. Remember that a groundhog can excavate a new den overnight and lives a solitary lifestyle, so don’t feel bad about transporting the little guy somewhere else. There are different live traps available, but most follow the same rules for use.

Note: Be sure to check up on local and state regulations first to see whether you are allowed to catch a groundhog yourself or must call to have wildlife officials perform the task.

How to Trap a Groundhog

What you will need:

  • Bait (cantaloupe works best, but you can use other garden plants the groundhog likes)
  • Bricks or heavy stones
  • Heavy gloves
  • Live trap
  • Materials for camouflage

Covering the trap in mud can be a good way to begin the camo process. Place the trap up against the den entrance and stick your bait in as far back as possible to ensure the groundhog is fully inside.

Placing some bricks or heavy stones on top will help prevent the groundhog from knocking the trap over. Next, prime the trap and cover it with sticks, leaves, and other debris.

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Be sure to check the trap often, and be ready to transport your captive critter as soon as possible so he doesn’t injure himself. Wear the heavy gloves and make sure you keep the trap away from your body to avoid being bitten or clawed.

The relocation point should be a good five miles away, and you will want to stay clear of the trap door when you open it, in case the critter decides to share its opinion of you.

Why We’re Against Killing Groundhogs

While there are ways to kill a groundhog, we strongly urge against it – and not just because of the slow, horrific suffering these methods cause. Using poisons or shooting a groundhog might seem a viable option, but an injured groundhog is a dangerous one. Instead of being shy, they will become highly aggressive.

Another reason to avoid poison and kill traps is the fact that either can prove fatal to other critters, including children and pets. Any poison that works on a groundhog will be equally effective against your family. A roaming cat or dog can easily get caught by snare traps and other lethal types of trap. Why put your loved ones at risk when you can get rid of groundhogs safely?

Groundhog Deterrents

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense, and this is especially true when dealing with critters. A good deterrent will not only keep groundhogs from setting up camp in your backyard, they can also help evict a resident critter.

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Ammonia and Cat Litter

Groundhogs won’t stay where they sense a lot of predators. Sprinkling used cat litter or rags soaked in ammonia will help trick the critter into thinking it’s a dangerous spot. As ammonia can harm your lawn, you will want to place the rags on something to keep it separated from the grass. As this method is essentially free for cat owners, it is litter-ally one of the best tricks to for getting rid of groundhogs and other big critters.

Epsom Salts

One of the most useful bathroom supplies can also help fend off hungry critters. Epsom salts are safe to ingest (they have been a popular diuretic for centuries), and groundhogs hate the taste.

Simply sprinkle some on your plants and the groundhog will take his business to a different restaurant. Keep in mind, the salts will wash off when it rains, so you will need to reapply them occasionally.

Will Mothballs Get Rid of Groundhogs?

The answer to this one is a little complicated. Mothballs can indeed help to get groundhogs out of  your yard, but it won’t stop them from returning. When you find a burrow entrance on your property, you can pour some mothballs into the entrance. This will prevent the groundhog from using that entrance for several weeks while the smell dissipates.

Unfortunately, simply filling in the hole or throwing more mothballs in occasionally doesn’t keep a groundhog from slipping back into your yard through the fence or from another burrow opening. Getting rid of groundhogs with mothballs can be a useful stopgap method if you’re in the process of installing a more groundhog-proof fence in the garden, but should never be considered a full solution.

Automatic Sprinklers

There are electronic sprinklers on the market which are motion activated. Stick these in your garden and other key spots. When the groundhog gets too close, the sprinkler activates and scares them off. As an added bonus, it waters your plants for you.

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Fencing

In your duel against groundhogs, a good weapon is chicken wire. Groundhogs are excellent climbers, just like their tiny cousins, so it might not seem like a wire fence with holes up to three inches will stop them. However, the trick is to bend the fencing into a six foot tall “C” shape.

Place two feet of it underground, with the horizontal part facing out.  This keeps the woodchuck from getting under the fence. Meanwhile, the outward-facing top part of the C will stop him from climbing over.

Groundhog Repellents

You might have seen advertisements for groundhog repellents. These are ammonia-based repellents are designed to mimic the scent of predator urine. Unfortunately, their effectiveness is sometimes less than perfect, and it’s usually best to stick to used litter, if the option is available.

Integrated Pest Management Principles for Humane Wildlife Control

Landmark Pest Management utilizes the humane wildlife control service of ABC Humane Wildlife Control & Prevention. Since Landmark Pest Management is an ABC Humane Wildlife Control & Prevention company, we know that ABC Humane Wildlife is aligned in the same Integrated Pest Management Principles that comprise the Landmark Difference.

  1. Modifying structures to keep wildlife out is the most humane, safe, and economical means of solving and preventing wildlife issues. Chimney caps, attic fan covers, attic vent guards, installing animal-proof screening beneath stoops and decks and correcting structural deficiencies should first be employed to reduce reliance on animal trapping.
  2. With adequate correction of structural deficiencies most rodent problems should be able to be well controlled without the long term use of rodenticide baits. When rodenticide baits are used as a knock-down agent for the immediate control of severe rodent problems, structural exclusion must take place in conjunction with their use to reduce reliance on rodenticides over time, with the ultimate goal of eliminating the need for rodenticides, since rodenticides may have the undesirable potential of reaching non-target species such as birds of prey and other wildlife.
  3. The control of bats and the remediation of bat colonies must center around the use of one-way-doors, called excluders, that allow bats to escape but not re-enter.

ABC Humane Wildlife Control and Prevention is headquartered in Arlington Heights and offers same day animal control service to Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, McHenry County, and parts of Kane and Will Counties. Their phones are staffed by state-certified nuisance wildlife control personnel who will create a plan encompassing exclusion, and if necessary trapping, to resolve your animal problem and restore your home or office to safe, sanitary conditions.

ABC Humane Wildlife’s 24 hour telephone number is (847) 870-7175 or you can learn more about their programs and book service on the web by visiting www.abcwildlife.com

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