How to Get Rid of Groundhogs Humanely
The best way to get rid of groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, is with an integrated control plan that includes trapping, repelling and excluding. Below, Havahart® provides step-by-step instructions to help you get rid of woodchucks, along with other useful trapping and repelling information.
- How to Get Rid Of
Groundhogs will enter your yard to find food and a safe place to burrow. It's important that you take some steps to minimize damage and make your yard less attractive:
Harvest crops like beans, peas and melons as early as possible.
Groundhogs prefer burrowing in areas that provide ample cover; remove piles of debris, rocks and/or wood where groundhogs may take shelter.
Trim back plants groundhogs may eat or use for cover.
Remove any tree trunks or other sources of wood that groundhogs can gnaw or grind their teeth on.
Use gravel to fill in any abandoned animal burrows.
2Identify Areas of Damage
Becoming familiar with your groundhog's habits and where it spends most of its time will help you target a control method.
Common groundhog activities include:
- damaging crops like peas, beans, melons and alfalfa
- eating grasses and clover
- gnawing/clawing on wood or woody vegetation
- chewing through electrical wires/tubing
- digging holes and burrowing under lawn or structures
Seek out any groundhog burrows on your property - you can identify these by locating their entrances/exits. Burrows generally contain 2-5 entrance holes, each about 6-8 inches in diameter. Groundhogs often hide these holes by digging them underneath vegetation and/or loosely covering them up with leaves and sticks.
3Choose a Control Method
Once you've identified the general whereabouts of your groundhog and what kind of damage it is causing, you can select the best control method. The more methods you use, the better your chances are at getting rid of groundhogs and keeping them off your property.
Live Groundhog Trap
The most effective way to remove a groundhog is with a live groundhog trap. Groundhogs are cautious creatures, so keep in mind the following tips:
- Prevent transferring your scent to the trap by wearing gloves when handling it.
- Bait your trap in a way that forces the groundhog to fully enter it - this will ensure the animal cannot back out when the door comes down.
- Prevent roll over and escapes after the groundhog is caught by ensure the trap cannot move. Place a brick on the top for extra stability.
- Camouflage the inside and outside of the trap with leaves so that the groundhog feels more comfortable entering.
For more tips and step-by-step instructions, read How to Trap a Groundhog »
A spicy pepper-based repellent will aggravate a groundhog's heightened sense of smell and taste. Applying one throughout your yard will keep groundhogs from entering certain areas, stop them from chewing on plants and surfaces, and/or prevent destructive digging and burrowing.
- Sprinkle a granular repellent to create a repelling barrier to drive/keep groundhogs out of problem areas.
- Spray a liquid repellent onto surfaces like plants, wood, grass or mulch to discourage gnawing, eating and digging.
It's important to note that repellents are rarely effective in keeping a mother groundhog away from her young. You may want to determine whether there is a nest on your property before you try to drive a groundhog out.
For more information, read How to Repel Groundhogs »
Use highly effective electronic repellents to frighten groundhogs with bursts of water to condition them to stay out of any area. These motion-activated water sprinklers are virtually maintenance-free and can be used to protect:
- vegetable gardens
- mulch beds
- pool areas
- koi ponds
- garbage cans
Groundhogs are skittish and known to respond quickly to scare tactics, so electronics are a great alternative to traditional liquid and granular repellents.
For more information, read Why Electronics »
Although groundhogs are skilled climbers, a properly installed fence can make it more challenging for them to enter your yard. Follow these fence guidelines:
- Fencing should stand at least 3-4 feet above ground level.
- Use a strong wire fence with openings no larger than 3" x 3".
- The fence should penetrate the ground at least 1 foot to prevent groundhogs from digging underneath it. Creating an "L" shape underground is most effective.
- Make the fence more difficult to climb over by adding an outward angle at the top.
If not properly controlled, groundhogs can cause serious structural damage when burrowing. Their tunnels break apart building foundations, and they will often chew through electrical wires and irrigation systems that may be in their way. For best results, use multiple groundhog control products at once.
Groundhogs enter into deep hibernation in the winter, at which time they are underground and inactive. Because of this, groundhog control efforts will only be effective in warmer months.
The best time to try to get rid of groundhogs is early in the spring, before mating season. Once a groundhog enters gestation, it will be difficult to repel her. And once a groundhog gives birth, you'll have more groundhogs on your property to control.
Plantings, woodpiles and debris surrounding your home provide shelter for groundhogs, making them more likely to live on your property or burrow underneath the grass or foundation. Minimizing ground cover will prevent this type of destructive behavior.
Before operating a live trap, get to know your local laws regarding trapping and relocating groundhogs or woodchucks.
Prevent groundhogs from occupying abandoned burrows by covering openings with wired fencing. Dig each out about 1 foot deep, then cover the hole with 3' x 3' of wire fencing and bury the fencing securely. VERY IMPORTANT: first make sure that there are no groundhogs living in the burrow.
- How to Trap
- How to Repel