All the gardeners face the problems of chewed plants and trees as well as stolen flowers. Even very small creatures can cause big damage.
A woodchuck is the biggest member of the squirrel class. Like all rodents, a groundhog likes sweet corns and digging the burrows.
It’s great that nowadays there are so many ways to fight them. You can use traps, repellents, poisons, etc. You can combine several types of products for groundhogs protection control. In this article, I would tell you more about how to get rid of woodchucks. I’m sure this information will be useful for you and your garden.
Groundhogs: the Ultimate Guide
Big squirrels or groundhogs look attractive and nice only on the first side. They creep into your property, and then damage your plants and soil. Woodchucks are a bit tricky animals, so you better know what they look like and what habits they have.
Groundhogs spend their lifetime mostly in their holes underground, which is obvious considering their name. Woodchucks reach 24 inches in length, not including the tail. But usually, they are about 15-17 inches with the 7 inches queue.
Their weight is not very big due to their sizes. The normal mass of the adult groundhog is from 5 to 10 pounds. The body structure of these animals allows them to dig out extremely long tunnels where they live. As they are not massive but quite long, it is easy for these animals to get through the hole and not stuck in it.
Their limbs are short but powerful, and the curved claws make these pests well-adapted to the process of digging. They have four teeth that grow 1.5 mm per week. Groundhogs should use their teeth regularly to wear them down. That’s why the woodchuck’s diet includes solid food.
Their lifestyle is similar to all rodents. In the summer, they used to build up the reserves of fat. Then, in the winter, they hibernate until spring. During the winter sleep, the animal’s temperature is the same as the temperature of the hole.
Woodchucks are responsible when we talk about hibernation. They even create a special winter burrow. The place for sleep is chosen carefully – it is usually the wooded area. They dig the soil below the frost line, where the temperatures are stable and high enough to feel comfortable.
Groundhogs lose about half of their weight during the winter sleep. They wake up when the farmers start to produce the food they could steal. Spring is the time when gardeners face the problem of removing groundhog.
What Do Groundhogs Eat?
Big squirrels are active early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Their ration includes vegetables, grass, and, sometimes, insects. They can eat a little bird if they find it by an accident. Groundhogs like birds, but what they like more – is the plants in your garden.
Lettuce, cantaloupe, sweet corn red, and black raspberries are tasty for them. In the early spring, they eat a lot of dandelion and coltsfoot. A part of their diet includes buttercup, mulberries, buckwheat, sweetgrass, and fruits they can find.
At the beginning of the summer, their metabolism slows, and groundhogs consume more food, as they are getting ready for the hibernation. They do not store food as many other rodents do. Instead, they make the fat deposition. Their diet is varied and includes a lot of agricultural plants.
The groundhogs burrow usually has from two to five entries. This technology helps the woodchucks to escape when the predators attack. Animals use their tunnels for sleeping, safety, hibernating, etc. The nest, where these pests rest, can be more than twenty inches below the surface.
The average length of the burrows is about fourteen feet. It often includes the side galleries. Groundhogs tunnels cause a lot of damage to the farm machinery and, sometimes, building foundations. So, as we see, woodchucks can harm not only the gardens but also the work of the farms and the safety of the buildings. This makes getting rid of woodchucks a serious problem.
How Not to Mix Up Groundhogs with Rabbits, Gophers, Squirrels?
It is simply because rabbits have long ears. But how not to mix up groundhogs with, for example, gophers? Both are brown rodents that tend to make tunnels. The gophers are smaller than woodchucks, and they belong to a different family group. The gopher’s teeth are protruding from its mouth when the groundhogs have their incisors hidden.
Even if you were able to see woodchuck’s teeth, they would be atypically white, while other rodents have yellow. Also, a groundhog has dark brown feet, and gophers have pink ones. The groundhog’s tail is quite short due to its body structure. The gopher’s claws are more adapted to the digging, and the front feet – to holding the food. It is really hard to mix up groundhogs with gophers, cause the first critter is much bigger than the second one.
To know if an animal you are looking at is a woodchuck, you just need to compare it to a squirrel. If it is bigger – be sure it is a groundhog, because other rodents are usually a squirrel size. If you had an opportunity to get closer, take a look at the feet.
If they are dark brown or black, it seems like you have met a woodchuck. Additionally, they have atypical white teeth, but it is sometimes hard to notice this. The best variant to indicate a groundhog is still to estimate the size of the animal.
What Do They Want from You and Your Garden?
In most cases, groundhogs appear in early spring or at the beginning of the summer. At this time, they seek for the food and new home, and your garden looks like a good place for this purpose. Groundhogs are more active at the beginning of the spring because they have just woken up and need a lot of food to renovate their metabolism and mass.
At the start of the summer season, they are already preparing for the next winter sleep. They eat vegetables, plants, flowers, and different types of grass. They also like the soil around your garden, because the soil is great for their burrows. These pests usually build a home not far away from your farm, or even at your territory, and use tunnels to steal your plants.
Are They Dangerous?
These rodents are one of the most dangerous pests. Not only they damage your planted area by eating everything they see but also cause the weakening of a building foundation because of their tunnels. They also chew irrigation systems or tubing.
Besides this, woodchucks make deep holes in the ground, which destroy the corns and other agriculture products. They leave teeth marks on the trees and other plantings they could not eat or steal away. That’s why the issue of how to kill groundhog includes not only the control of the eaten plants but also the security of the machinery you use and your buildings.
How to Fight Them Step-By-Step?
The most popular methods to fight against groundhogs are traps, repellents, sound repellers, gassers, and poisons. Some of them kill the animals instantly, while others are safe for the pests. But all are made of the natural ingredients and cause no harm to your lawn or vegetables.
There are some specific tips on how to use them properly. I will describe how to apply groundhogs control methods step-by-step.
This type of groundhog control seems to be the easiest one. All you need to catch a woodchuck is to set a trap and wait. Firstly, you need to open doors in the cage and get them ready for capturing. Then, you need to place some bait. For woodchucks, it is lettuce, sweet corn, or cantaloupe.
In the beginning, you can leave the bait in the closed trap to entice the animal. You can make such a trick on the first day of use. The pest will see that it can have some tasty food. If a groundhog is not able to get it, on the next day the animal will not be very careful and can get into the trap easily.
The cage should be located near the entrance to the hole, but not very close, cause it can scary the pest. You can hide it a little with the leaves or branches. Groundhog trap should be massive enough, so the animal won’t turn it over. The material does not allow groundhogs to chew the construction.
Check a cage regularly, because the animal can harm itself if it stays in a cage for a long time. You should also replace the bait if the old one seems to go bad. Small animals, like rats and mice, can steal a lure, so you need to check twice or once a day if the food is still in the cage. But the trap won’t catch them, because it is directed on the size of the woodchuck.
There are two types of repellents – spray and granules. But they have the same mode of action. They scary rodents away using the strong smell. Groundhogs hate the aroma of garlic and pepper. The repellents usually take advantage of this fact and also add some other smells like lemon.
You need to set granules or spray near your plants or near the entrance to the burrow. There are usually two main holes in the tunnels, and it is better to find them and place the groundhog repellent there. This would force the woodchuck to dig out another way, far away from your garden. No need to spray exactly on the plants, the smell still spreads around your area.
The action of the repellent lasts for about several weeks. After that, you need to repeat the procedure. You can use these products not only when your garden is already damaged by the woodchucks, but to prevent this.
A sound repeller is what gets rid of groundhog without using the chemicals. These products are great to use if you want to protect a big area of agricultural corns.
They charge by solar energy, and their action lasts for a couple of days. It is comfortable because you don’t need to change the batteries. They will also work properly even if you have left the garden for a couple of days or weeks.
You should place 12 repellers per acre. About two weeks later, the woodchucks should go away because of the terrible sound. Some time should pass because the action of the sound on the animals is slow but very effective. They won’t come back for about several months; during this time, there is no need to use the repellers.
But you need to track when the first signs of the pests appear and replace the sound repellers when needed. They are weatherproof, so you should not be afraid that they would get damaged because of the rain.
Chemicals that kill groundhogs and other pests are usually manufactured as a granular formula in a container. To use it, you should determine what burrow is active. To do this, you need to press down a small section near the burrow. If the soil raises again or is repaired in the next two days, it means you have found an active tunnel. Make a hole carefully with a cone tip.
After that, open the container of the product and place the poison into the hole. Close the tunnel with the soil or stone. In a few days, check the burrow. If a groundhog did not eat a bait, repeat the procedure. Usually, the poison acts immediately as it has a nice smell and taste for the woodchucks.
These products are fast-acting, but I think, you should use them only in case the groundhogs have occupied your garden. If they have appeared only a few days ago, try other variants that are safe for the animals.
There are also old traditional methods of how to remove groundhog, but they are not as effective as the groundhog control method I have described above. Sometimes, people use garlic, pepper, or other organic products that have a strong smell.
However, they are not effective because their smell is not so strong as the repellent with the combination of all these smells in a bug concentration. All these traditional methods are familiar to groundhogs, and they may just ignore them and continue to damage your garden.
Top 6 Groundhogs Treatments
1. Havahart 1045 Live Animal Cage Trap – A Trap to Keep Groundhogs Away
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Special Features: Maximum resistance to rust and corrosion
- Item Weight: 12.8 Pounds
- Item Dimensions LxWxH: 36 x 10 x 12 inches
- Target Species: Groundhog, Armadillo, Cat, Raccoon, Opossum
The Havahart manufacturer is convinced that the control products should never harm wildlife. They offer live animal traps, repellents, and safe electronic solutions. For over 75 years, they strive to create the newest technologies that provide high-level protection. Havahart products are safe for the environment and approved for use in organic gardening.
Groundhog Cage Trap is great for the groundhog elimination. It is made of the rust-proof mesh with the steel carcass. Such a construction provides using a trap for a long time without corrosion and rust formation. It also won’t allow the animal to damage the cage by crutching it.
A trap has two entrances that allow animals to get there from either direction. When the animal gets into the cage, both doors close as an answer to the movement. The doors are smaller than in other similar cages. If the door is too large a pest can just eat bait and run away.
The construction prevents groundhogs from escaping and stealing the bait. The triggers are sensitive and swiftly capture a specific animal. If a smaller animal gets to the trap, the triggers won’t react. They close only when a groundhog touches the sides of the cage.
As the door is the same size as the animal, it won’t catch a rat or a mouse, for example. But they can steal the bait, so it is better to check if the food is still there twice or once a day.
The trap catch is not dangerous to the woodchucks. The door closes only after the animal gets inside. A large handle protects people during transit. Woodchucks can be very active and try to bite you. In this case, a big handle will prevent this. A cage has smooth inside edges that keep pets and you safe. The trap is the best variant if you know that the groundhogs live very close to your house and like to walk near your garden.
2. I Must Garden Deer, Rabbit and Groundhog Repellent – Repellent to Deter Groundhog
- Safe For Pets, People, Environment
- Scent: Mint
- Item Form: Granules
- Item Weight: 2.7 pounds
- Item Dimensions: 5 x 4.5 x 7.5 inches
I Must Garden was founded by the professional gardener Marilyn Cox. For many years, she has been trying to find a formula for the product that does not cause damage to the animal, humans, and the environment. All the ingredients of the insecticides are natural. Marilyn Cox knows how to keep groundhogs out of the garden but not to kill or harm them.
Repellents in granules are the products that deter groundhog. They have a dual-action formula that scares the pests with a smell. It means that the groundhogs will feel an unpleasant smell, and this will scare them away. Besides the fear, it will be hard for them to live near the garden that has a strong aroma.
Animals understand instantly that your planted area is not for them. This repellent contains more active substances than the usual groundhog extermination repellent. They strengthen the work of each other and reinforce the smell. It provides long-lasting action with using less mass of the product.
A small cupped hand of the product can protect your whole garden. All the ingredients are natural and contain additional botanical oils that have a nice smell for humans. Granules are safe for animals and people. They have no effect on the plant’s growth and appearance.
It won’t discolor your flowers and grass. The specific formula allows using the product effectively during rain or even snow, and it is not affected by the freezing temperatures. It won’t wash away, and the efficiency won’t decrease. Repellent is ideal for guarding plants that need additional protection also from rabbits and deers.
3. Rabbit & Groundhog Repellent – the Groundhog Removal Spray
- Scent: Minty Fresh
- Item Form: Spray
- Item Volume: 40 fl. oz.
- Item Weight: 2.86 pounds
- Package Dimensions: 12.24 x 6.3 x 5.59 inches
- Target pests: Rabbits, Groundhogs
Rabbit & Groundhog Out company helps gardeners and farmers all around the world to keep groundhogs away from the planted area. Its products contain oils that have an unpleasant taste and smell. All the ingredients are natural and safe for pets, children, and the environment.
Groundhog Repellent is perfect for rabbit and groundhog removal. The product includes two essential ingredients – gum arabic and vegetable oil. Gum arabic contains acacia flowers juice, which smell is strong because they entice the pollinators.
Besides the gum arabic, there are other additional natural smells. Vegetable oil strengthens the action of the gum by increasing the aroma. Due to this, the repellent stays active for a longer time. You do not need to spray your plants every day, and to support the product`s action you should keep an eye and add some more chemicals when needed.
The mode of action of the spray is to scare the pests away from your plants, using a strong lemon or peppermint essence. It is pleasant for humans but offensive for animals because their noses are a thousand times more sensitive. The groundhogs are even more sensitive to unpleasant smells than other animals.
That’s why while fighting the woodchucks, people usually use the repellents in granules or sprays. The spray is simple in usage – you just need to spray it in your garden. It won’t leave a layer, spot, or discolor your plants.
4. Thanos 8X Solar Sonic Mole Repellent Groundhog Repeller – Sound Repeller to Solve Groundhog Proble
No products found.
This Repeller is unique in its action. It creates the sound that pulses every 30s. The noise penetrates the soil and forces the pests to get away from your garden. The product is weatherproof and charges from solar energy. Four hours charging would provide five working days without the need to change the battery.
It is safe for humans and does not contain chemicals or poison. Repeller helps to get rid of moles, groundhogs, rabbits, and other burrowing rodents. It takes from two to four weeks to keep groundhogs away. After that, they won’t bother you for several weeks.
The product does not hurt animals. It just does not allow them to get close and harm your planted area.
5. The Giant Destroyer (GAS KILLER) – Gas Bombs Killing Groundhogs
- Active Ingredients:Carbon 9%, Sodium Nitrate 50%, Sulfur 38%
- Natural Organic Substances
- Item Weight: 10.1 ounces
- Item Dimensions LxWxH: 12.3 x 9.2 x 7 inches
- Target Species: Moles, Gophers, Woodchucks, Norway Rats, Skunks, and Ground Squirrels
The Giant Destroyer produces the super gasses, which help with getting rid of groundhogs. All the products are hand-packed and made of high-quality materials. The idea of the company is to provide simple products that will solve the customers` problems. The Giant Destroyer has been holding up well for over 50 years and will continue to provide innovations in the future.
This item produces gas that is killing groundhogs instantly when it gets into the tunnels. The product is efficient in fighting against small pests like rats, squirrels as well as the larger ones like skunks and woodchucks. It is really a giant destroyer because it is one of the largest gassers on the market.
The bombs are made of organic substances and are not harmful to the plants and another environment, excluding the insects. You can use the item only outdoors in such places as parks, re-forest areas, lawns, and others.
6. Victor M6006 Mole & Gopher Poison Peanuts – Easy-to-Use Poison to Provide Groundhog Elimination
No products found.
Victor is a recognized and trusted brand in rodent control. A decade ago, the company has revolutionized the market by introducing the spring-based mousetrap. Nowadays, they manufacture traps for various types of rodents pose.
Poison Peanuts work as a poison that you should place at the entering of the hole. It is both – a lure and an eliminator of the animals. The container is constructed to make it easy to pour the pellets into the dynamic burrows. The peanuts look attractive and tasty to the ground animals, and they start eating the poison.
After a while, the active ingredient kills them. Be sure not to allow pets and children to get close to the chemicals.
It’s hard to say whether the groundhogs will attack your garden or not. It is better to protect your plants before the woodchucks will come. Two or four weeks before the spring starts and then three months later, you need to secure your garden.
You can use the repellents that are great for the prevention techniques. If you do not want to apply the chemicals, you can set up the ultrasonic repellent that will scare away the rodents, deers, and rabbits before they try to steal your food and flowers. Traps and poison are not very effective in this case.
Are Groundhogs Dangerous?
Groundhogs do not hurt people, but they usually steal the plants from the garden like corn, flowers, etc. They also chew the tree barks. They can harm a big area of the agricultural corns. Woodchucks’ burrows can damage the farm machinery or the building foundation.
Where Do Groundhogs Live?
They dig out their tunnels in the area without trees. In most cases, they build their homes near the gardens because it is easier to get food.
What Does a Groundhog Hole Look Like?
It looks like a usual rodent’s hole, but their burrows are a little bigger than, for example, gophers build, because woodchucks are the largest species in the squirrel family. They often make more than two holes in one tunnel. And they do not leave the soil on the surface, so sometimes it is hard to find a groundhog burrow.
What Noise Does a Groundhog Make?
When they are eating, they make a noise that sounds like “chunk-chunk”. When they notice a danger, they whistle.
Will a Groundhog Attack a Dog?
Groundhogs are small animals that are used to hide from predators. They will run away to their burrows if they see a dog. But, in case a dog gets close to the groundhog, the rodent can bite the dog to protect itself.
Do Groundhogs Eat Mice?
They can eat smaller animals only in the following case. If they accidentally get the opportunity to catch mice, groundhogs will do it.
Can a Repellent Kill a Groundhog?
The repellents cause no harm to the animals. If you want to kill a groundhog, you need to use a poison which is fast-acting.
When Are the Groundhogs More Active?
They start to damage the gardens in the beginning of spring or summer. During the day, groundhogs are mostly active in the early morning.
A Summary of the Results
It seems like I have given you all the information I know about how to repel groundhog. You can open this article whenever you need to check if the one who is eating your plants is a groundhog or it is simply your neighbor’s dog.
All the methods to deal with the groundhog problem are effective, and now it is your step to decide how to get rid of groundhogs. Be sure to choose wisely. Have you ever seen a groundhog chewing your flowers or plants? How did you cope with this? If you have a funny story or user experience, please, share it with us.
- Woodchuck (Adirondack Ecological Center):
- Professor studies groundhog hibernation to benefit mankind(Penn State News):
- Groundhogs(University of Maryland Extension):
- Managing Woodchuck Problems in Missouri(University of Missouri):
- Dealing with Woodchuck Damage(The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension):
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