Are you currently having a Groundhog problem? They can be pretty difficult to keep away since they enjoy burrowing underground, and eating plants. But there must be a solution, right? Let’s explore the many ways of how to keep Groundhogs away.
5 techniques to keep Groundhogs away from your property:
- Liquid or Granular Repellent
- Rotate Your Crops: replace your grains with other plants
- Flood Irrigation/Fumigation: fill their holes with water and oil, or smoke
- Fencing: create a barrier around your plants or their burrows
- Trapping: use a live trap for easy catch-and-removal
Specific plants and predatory animals are strategic solutions as well.
If you are having a serious Groundhog issue, these solutions have a high rate of being successful.
There can be several reasons as to why your garden is the victim of Groundhog madness. Prevention is key. Knowing why the Groundhogs are choosing your yard to inhabit is important to making sure they stay away, and don’t come back.
How to Keep Groundhogs Out Of Your Yard
Your yard is a place for your children to run and play, while you throw the occasional barbeque; and I’m sure a Groundhog popping its head out will only create a bad situation for you.
Take your pick of these useful options to hike up your chances of keeping a Groundhog out of your yard.
One of the safest and effective capture techniques, setting a live trap will save you the hassle of using poison, and possibly killing your plants, or the Groundhog.
Use these steps:
- Wear gloves to reduce the transfer of your scent
- Find the holes/tunnel by using a metal rod or screwdriver (something that won’t break)
- Place a 2-door trap on a leveled surface, approximately 5 – 10 feet near the entrance
- Bait it with one of these foods so the Groundhog will show up faster, Peas, Lettuce, Corn, String beans, Cantaloupe, Peaches, Strawberries
- Camouflage the trap with sticks and leaves
- Check periodically for capture, and to make sure it stays in the cage
Live traps have a high success rate; however, the speed at which it works is based on where you place it, and what you use as bait.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, certain plants can do the trick of keeping Groundhogs out of your yard. Groundhogs are herbivores, which means they love plants! But some plants are not too sweet for them. The bad taste and disappointment tends to drive them away.
Here are some plants that Groundhog(s) don’t like! The slightest taste of one of these plants, and the groundhog will run away in disgust!
- Onion or Garlic plants
- Cardinal flower
- Sweet Alyssum
Simply place the plants into the soil, and create a border around your garden, or the area that you don’t want the Groundhog around. The pungent aromas of these plants will be too much for the Groundhog to handle.
It can be a real hassle for them, which is what we want!
Now of course, it will take a while for these plants to grow potent enough to negatively affect the animal. I suggest buying the plants in their adult state, and planting them according to aforementioned guidelines.
You read it correctly, Groundhog predators!
Groundhogs may have the upperhand on trees, shrubs, and bushes, but it can’t hold a candle to its predators. In most cases, when approached by a predator, any smart Groundhog will run away. The others, well… they becomes lunch!
All the more reason to use this method.
Now, this is a potentially lethal form of removal, so if you are an animal lover, I suggest moving on to the next solution.
1. Foxes and Coyotes
The number one predators of Groundhogs are Foxes and Coyotes! These two animals are great predators because of two reasons:
- They are good at being very still while hunting
- They are willing to dig into the holes to catch their prey.
Foxes and Coyotes are also woodland and forest-type animals, which means that they can be found in the same areas as Groundhogs, making them a literal natural predator.
The Hawk is a great choice for one reason: it can see from above!
Because they can fly, they have a certain vantage point that allows them to look directly into the hole from above; a nice tactic when trying to avoid being seen. Their sharp talons are efficient tools for sweeping up a Groundhog, and carrying it to their nest for a solid meal.
In addition, owls and eagles are also natural predators for the same reasons as the hawk.
Do you have a dog or cat lying around the house? If so, they would be a big help to keeping Groundhogs away. Why? Because both cats and dogs have a keen sense of smell, so they will be able to find the Groundhog faster than you will!
In addition, if your pet sees a little head randomly popping out of the dirt, its natural instinct will tell it to run to it, and try to snatch it! Now you have created a game of Cat-and-Groundhog between your pet and pest.
Be informed: using your own pet can be a hazard. A Groundhog may have swallowed a poison pellet, or may have some type of disease attached to it. If the Groundhog is able to get a good knick or bite on your pet, it could transfer a bacteria to them.
That’s right, humans! You are currently reading this article to figure out the best ways to keep Groundhogs away. In a sense, you’re hunting; therefore you are a predator as well!
Animal control is literally a human sector that traps and captures Groundhogs!
It is common in Northeastern states of the U.S. to shoot at Groundhogs for either pest control measures, sport, or dinner. Although not the top predator, we humans are known to hunt, and potentially kill any animal that disturbs are livelihood or property.
So with that being said, you are a predator as well.
How to Keep Groundhogs Out Of Your Garden
Yes, there is a difference between a “yard” and a “garden”. In this case, a garden is filled with food plants, and/or specific flowers.
So how do you keep Groundhogs out of your garden? How can you protect your flowers and vegetation? Well let’s take a look…
Fencing is pretty simple, actually:
- Purchase chicken wire at least six feet high, with five feet posts
- Securely attach the posts to the chicken wire
- Bury the post and wire at least ten to twelve inches deep (very important!)
- At the top of the fence, leave about 12 inches of free wire, and curl it up (so that the Groundhog can’t climb over)
Most of these products are readily available at your local hardware store.
I’ll be honest, there is about a 60% chance of repellent products working because of one reason: it has to spread throughout the entire hole, and most people don’t put the product deep enough.
However! Groundhogs are not a fan of spices because it aggravates their sense of smell.
Take this helpful hint into consideration, and try out some of these products to repel Groundhogs from your garden:
- Granular or Liquid repellent(s): Simply place, or spray, the repellent around or deep into the burrow.
- Castor oil: It works because of its stinch; they hate the smell! Place a spoonful of oil directly into the burrow, and fill it with dirt. You can also use a spoonful of oil, mixed with 2 cups of water, and spray your entire yard every two to three weeks.
- If you can, use the oil when they are not in the hole, or they will just stay burrowed.
- Aggravating scents: Any smell that annoys the Groundhogs senses. Remember, the stronger, the better
- Pepper: any type of pepper is said to have a significant effect on keeping groundhogs away. Just sprinkle some directly into the burrow, and fill it with dirt.
- If you’d rather spray a solution, then mix 4 spoonfuls of pepper with 2 cups of warm water. Spray your yard for two to three weeks, and bam! Your pesky Groundhog should soon disappear.
- Garlic: Crush up a couple of garlic cloves and spread them near the areas that you want the animal to avoid. The scent alone will keep them away.
- Herbs: The plants that smell sweet to us are very disruptive for them:
- Lavender, thyme, chives, basil, lemon bomb, mint, sage, oregano, and rosemary are excellent choices.
- Pepper: any type of pepper is said to have a significant effect on keeping groundhogs away. Just sprinkle some directly into the burrow, and fill it with dirt.
Here are some unorthodox, yet successful tricks to keep a Groundhog away.
- Epsom Salt: Causes dehydration, and is a potential poison for the Groundhog.
- Human hair clippings: Yup! No one likes the taste of hair in their mouth, even Groundhogs! Simply spread hair clipping near its main food source, and inside of the burrow.
- Soiled kitty litter: Why? Because it smells like a natural predator. Just spread the soiled litter around one of the holes. The smell will freak them out, and they’ll pop out of the other end, right into your trap.
In the end, the best way to rid yourself of this animal in the safest way possible is to simply call your local Animal Control department, and they will properly catch and release it.
Do Groundhogs Have Good Eyesight?
Groundhogs have great vision. It’s postulated that they can see up to three hundred feet! They usually appear out of their burrows during the early morning, midday, and early evening; which tells us that they see best during the day.
Groundhogs are said to have eyesight similar to that of a human’s; it’s pretty steady, regardless of whether it’s day or night. Also, we’re not sure if they see color or not, but they do see movement! Keeping yourself still is very important to catching them.
During the day when they are in the middle of feeding, their eyesight is focused on food, while their ears are focused on everything else. Groundhogs use their ears as “eyes” to listen out for predators, or other animals who may want to steal their food, or harm them.
Keep this in mind when setting your traps to catch it. Make sure that the cage is leveled to reduce movement, and be sure to disguise it to where you don’t even see it! Remember, their eyesight is similar to ours.
How Deep Can A Groundhog Dig?
A Groundhog can dig a burrow two to five feet deep, and as long as fifteen to twenty-five feet across! You can generally determine where the entrance of the burrow is due to the mound of dirt that has piled up next to it.
Their tunneling system is intricate.
The hole is transformed into a tunnel, which can stretch in one, or multiple directions (there are usually two tunnels, on average) with each burrow containing a nest.
If there is a family, there can be up to five different entrances, and tunnels collectively averaging about 45 feet!
The alpha Groundhog’s nest is usually at the very end of the tunnels, and connects them all for efficient underground travel, and food deposits.
So finding the lead Groundhog will be an attainable challenge for anyone!
Can Groundhogs Dig Through Concrete?
Groundhogs like to build their burrows next to solid foundations, which means concrete. If it dug through the concrete, it wouldn’t have a stable foundation to build its nest. And best case scenario, attempting to dig through concrete would only sharpen its nails.
But! Can Groundhogs chew through concrete? Yes.
Groundhogs have four incisor teeth that are shaped like chisels, which is perfect for chewing through whatever they feel like. Their teeth grow approximately 1/16th of an inch (1 centimeter) per week! Imagine if your teeth grow that fast!
For that reason, they are constantly gnawing and sharpening their teeth on soft nature like grass, shrubs or bushes, or hard items like concrete, wood, or tree bark. So it may take a while, but it is a solid possibility.
Can Groundhogs Damage Foundations?
Yes they most certainly can!
Weakening a property’s structural integrity is the biggest threat! Groundhogs can damage your foundation by burrowing near or under the structure, and tunneling too much.
As mentioned before, Groundhogs strategically build their burrows under solid structures, like sheds, buildings, or houses, for their strong and stable integrity. As the Groundhog settles in, it continues to create more tunnels in order to efficiently move towards their food or stock supply.
The major point is that if the animal’s burrow entrance is near your foundation, water will seep in. That’s what causes the most damage.
As more water flows into the structure, it makes the soil soft. As time goes on, more digging occurs, thus increasing the chances of your foundation collapsing, and being completely ruined.
Solutions for Your Damaged Foundation
Capture-and-Release of the Groundhog
The best option to save your foundation is to get rid of the Groundhog as soon as possible!
Groundhogs have a tendency to have litters, or other Groundhogs, live with them in the burrow (that’s another reason for numerous holes). If more are there, the more will show up and continue to tunnel until your foundation fails, and the structure falls.
Call Your Housing Specialist
Luckily, the damage is reversible, if caught in time. Contact your local housing specialist, and inform them of potential foundation damage.
Your Housing Engineer will show up, assess the damage (if any) and inform you of what options to take next to rid yourself of your nuisance, and grant you and your family peace of mind.
What Diseases Do Groundhogs Carry?
Groundhogs are known to carry 3 different types of diseases: Powassan Disease, Rabies, and Tularemia.
This virus is transmitted via ticks that are carried by Groundhogs. It can cause symptoms presenting as a fever, headache, vomiting, seizures, confusion, or memory loss.
According to the Center for Disease Control, just about all of the reported cases happen in the Northeastern region of the United States. Also, there have only been 133 reported cases and 12 casualties in the past ten years, with only 21 cases being reported in 2019.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease. If you or a family member seems infected, go directly to your healthcare provider. It’s safe to say that this disease is rare, but still a valid reason to keep Groundhogs away from you and your family.
The Mayo Clinic describes Rabies as “a deadly virus spread to people from the saliva of an infected animal.” Good news! You only have to be concerned about Rabies if you get bitten by an infected Groundhog.
How do you know if it affected you? Be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Difficulty Swallowing
Tragically, there is no cure for Rabies, and most cases end up fatal. If infected, urgently seek medical treatment, and push for a Rabies shot to slow down the symptoms.
Here are some easy tips for protecting yourself against your possibly infected Groundhog:
- Protect your pet from the animal
- Don’t approach wild Groundhogs
- Report the wild animal to your local authorities
- Consider a Rabies shot if you’re traveling to the Northeastern States
You may have heard of this disease as “Rabbit Fever” or “Deerfly Fever”. The National Organization of Rare Diseases explains that Tularemia is an infectious disease that targets the eyes, lymph nodes and lungs. Not pretty at all.
Humans can contract this contagious disease via several mediums such as:
- Tick or Biting Fly bite
- Handling an infected animal
- Inhaling or ingesting the bacteria
Signs and symptoms presents like the flu – chills, headache, nausea, muscle pains – then (possibly) evolves into more serious symptoms like rashes, ulcers, or painful lymph nodes. Serious complications include damage of the central nervous system, or meningitis.
Amazingly, this disease is curable! Antibiotics to the rescue! They are the sole source of treatment for curing this horrible illness
Groundhogs may carry the disease, even in a dormant state. My tip is to wear a mask and wear thick gloves when interacting with the Groundhog. If it seems too challenging, don’t risk it!! Call your local Animal Control entity, and let them take care of it.
Do Groundhogs Eat Garbage?
It depends on what’s in your garbage.
If you mean plastic, metals, paper, or old meat… no, Groundhogs don’t ingest that.
Groundhogs are mostly herbivores, and eat a lot of vegetation like fruit and vegetables, along with the occasional bug or two. So if you have old scraps of apples and bananas, and they create larvae or maggots, you can possibly count on a Groundhog popping up.
To prevent that from happening, make sure to keep your garbage can clean. When you throw out food, be sure that it is inside of the bag. When finished, close the bag and tie it tightly.
What Do Groundhogs Like to Eat The Most?
Being an herbivore means that they will eat just about anything that comes directly from the Earth! Check out this list of Groundhog’s favorite food:
- Greens (alfafa, clover, lettuce, dandelions, etc.)
- Trees (Bark and Twigs especially)
- Vegetables (beans, carrots, celery, corn, etc.)
- Fruit (berries, cherries, apples)
- Bugs (snails, grasshoppers, )
If these foods are within 150 feet of your home, then it will most likely attract the presence of a Groundhog. You can even use these various foods as bait when attempting to trap it!
Groundhogs are cool, but they can cause a lot of damage to your property, and even worse, your family’s foundation.
Thankfully, we have all of these helpful hints and tips to swiftly, and correctly, keep Groundhogs away from your yard or garden.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare