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How to Trap a Groundhog

The most effective way to remove a groundhog from your yard is with a live groundhog trap. Below, Havahart® offers step-by-step trapping instructions as well as tips to help you safely and successfully catch a groundhog.

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How to Trap

1Choose a Groundhog Trap

The most important criteria when choosing a live groundhog trap is size: select one that is 32-42 inches in length. This gives your groundhog enough room to fully enter the trap. Choose from either 1 or 2-door models:

  • easier for larger animals to fully enter trap
  • favored by professionals; better bait protection
  • dual entry provides higher catch rate
  • ability to see through trap calms cautious animals
  • may be set with either 1 or 2 doors open


2Determine Trap Placement

Identify any groundhog burrows on your property. A groundhog rarely strays far from its home, so the best place to set your trap is 5-10 feet from the entrance.

If you aren't able to locate a burrow, place the trap in an area where your groundhog frequents or where you've seen the most groundhog damage.

Place your trap on an even, level surface to ensure stability.


3Camouflage Your Trap

Groundhogs are wary creatures and may be reluctant to enter an unnaturally shiny cage trap. Camouflage your trap to make it more inviting by using natural cover elements like:

  • twigs
  • brush
  • branches
  • leaves
  • dirt
  • grass

Spray your trap with water and roll it in dirt or mud before placement to give it a conditioned look. Keep any camouflaging elements out from underneath the trigger plate to ensure proper trap function.


4Add Bait

Cantaloupe is a groundhog favorite. Another great bait would be anything your groundhog regularly steals from your garden.

It is crucial that you properly position your bait. Place it in a way that forces the groundhog to fully enter the trap - see diagram to the right.

Groundhogs are skittish, but one should be confident when entering your trap. Familiarize your groundhog with the trap by tying it open and leaving bait inside for a few days before you set it.

For more bait options and expert tips, read How To: Groundhog Baits »


5Set Your Trap

Set the door or doors open by following your trap's unique setting instructions.

Once your trap is set, test the trigger and close mechanism by applying pressure to the trigger plate.

TIP: Set your trap perfectly every time with Easy Set® technology.


6Monitor Your Trap

A groundhog may quickly become anxious once it's trapped inside the cage. It is important to check your trap regularly to prevent it from trying to escape and injuring itself. It can take a few minutes or a couple of days to catch a groundhog, but you should never leave one trapped for a long period of time.


7You've Caught a Groundhog!

Wear heavy gloves when handling the trap, and hold it away from your body.

Cover the cage with a cloth or tarp to keep the groundhog calm.

If relocating your groundhog, do so at least 5 miles away from your property. Choose an area that provides cover so that your groundhog will not want to travel far to make a new home.

Though groundhogs are not generally aggressive, one might attack if it feels threatened. For your safety, stand back from the groundhog as it exits the trap.


8Remove Groundhog Attractants

After removing the groundhog, keep it away by reducing attractants like food and shelter. Havahart® suggests:

  • harvesting crops like beans, peas and melons as early as possible
  • trimming back plants that groundhogs may eat or use for cover
  • removing piles of debris, rocks and/or wood
  • filling abandoned burrows with gravel, or covering them with wire mesh or fencing

Expert Tips

Get to know the laws in your area before trapping and relocating a groundhog.

Groundhogs are diurnal creatures and most active during the morning and late afternoon. Disengage a set trap during evening hours to prevent catching an unwanted critter.

Groundhogs avoid humans and will avoid a trap if it carries human scent. Clean your trap each time before you use it, and always wear gloves when you handle the trap - even when it's empty.

Anchor your trap by placing a brick on top of it so that it doesn't rattle and startle the groundhog when it enters.

Lead your groundhog into the trap by placing logs in a “V” or funnel shape outside of the entrance.

After using a live trap to remove your groundhog, keep it out with an effective groundhog repellent.

How to Repel

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