Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) are annoying fluffy creatures that can be an inconvenience to our yards, gardens and growing vegetation. They cause unnecessary havoc by digging out burrows, therefore, it’s understandable that you’re seeking information to learn how to trap a groundhog.
In order to successfully trap a groundhog humanely you will need a live capture cage trap, some bait and patience. Recognising your particular groundhogs habits can also play a part in the success rate of the capture.
Throughout this article you will learn how to trap a groundhog along with other helpful information such as what bait you can use, correct placement of traps and tips to help you prevent groundhogs from coming back.
The Basic Method You Can Use for Getting Started with Trapping a Groundhog:
- Decide what trap you will use. Similar to other pest’s live cage traps, you can purchase either a one door or two door cage. (Both work the same however a two door cage could potentially mean double the capture).
- Carefully place your trap in a suitable location. Depending on where this particular groundhog is causing havoc on your property, place your trap either near the burrows or in their most frequent area.
- Disguise your trap!
- Use bait to increase your chances of capture.
- Leave your trap overnight and check back on it the following day, where hopefully you have captured any groundhogs.
- Release the groundhog into the wild.
The most humane method of trapping is by using live capture cage traps (which I briefly mentioned above). These live cage traps are easy to use and don’t inflict any harm towards you or the groundhog itself. If you do however decide to go for a kill trap method, you will need to do your own individual research along with finding out any additional information around your local state laws with groundhog killing and releasing.
If it’s your first time releasing a groundhog, have no fear as it’s simple enough to do. All that requires for you to release a groundhog is a trip into the wild or bushland.. far away from your property or the property of others. To keep the groundhog settled, you can opt to place a towel or blanket over the top of the cage to black out their vision so they feel less anxious (they’re probably feeling very scared right now). Simply open the cage door and allow the groundhog to exit on their own.
You may not mind trapping the animal, however, if you’re not particularly interested in releasing the groundhog yourself you can contact your local animal services to rid them for you or hire a professional. Remember to obtain a few quotes first as depending where you are can sometimes end up costly, especially if you have more than one groundhog to get rid of.
What Bait to Use In Groundhog Traps
If you’re looking at what bait to use to help with the enticement of groundhogs towards your traps, thankfully there a few different bait options you can try. Using bait inside of your traps is a great way to increase your capture rate and has a proven success record. A lot of the options I mention below are foods you most likely have in your home or garden too!
The best bait you can use for your groundhog traps are fruits or veggies. Groundhogs are mainly herbivores, so you can entice them by using vegetables or even better sweet vegetables. Opt for using vegetables such as carrots, corn or lettuce. You can also use peas or beans. As for the different fruits you can use try anything from strawberries, apples or peaches.
Along with their vegetable and fruit diet, a groundhog can also stomach flowers, bark, insects, snails, acorns and grass. When trapping a groundhog it shouldn’t be necessary to use anything except for vegetables or fruit for bait however it is good to know in case you shall require it.
One other alternative bait you can use for groundhog traps are poison bait. Although this is not a typical “bait” food (but instead a poison that you spread over any holes dug out by a groundhog) there are pro’s and con’s to this method. Do more individual research to see if this method is for you.
In regards to knowing where to place your bait (and depending if you decide to use a live cage capture trap), you can simply place bait inside of the cage or on the area designed specially for your cage depending on what brand you’ve purchased. If you choose to use peanut butter or jam, you can spread these sweet substances over the entrance of the cage and it should work just as well.
Where Do You Put A Groundhog Trap?
Placing a groundhog trap in the most appropriate location can play a big role in the success of your capture. Deciding where you place a groundhog trap should come with careful consideration as you want to avoid wasting your time and money due to simple mistakes.
So where do you put a groundhog trap? The best place to put your trap/s are closeby to the entry holes or burrows of the groundhog. It’s no good placing a trap in a completely irrelevant area, “hoping” the groundhog will suddenly appear inside. Get back to the basics, your focus should be to place your traps near their main target area. If you’re having trouble with positioning, aim to place the trap at least 5 feet away from the opening of their burrows.
It’s also helpful to determine whether or not there are more than one entry way for the groundhog. If this is the case, you’ll want to consider purchasing multiple traps and double the bait (if you decide to use bait) in order to increase your capture rate. This would be a good example where a two-door live cage trap would work sufficiently.
Groundhog Trapping Tips
If you’re a beginner to the business of trapping groundhogs, rest assured you’re not alone! Thankfully I have you covered with tips and tricks you can use around trapping groundhogs, so continue reading:
- Disguise your trap as best as possible. Groundhogs are cautious animals at times so they may be hesitant to enter your trap. To avoid this hesitation, use the environment around you to make the trap appear more camouflaged. Some people have used leaves, twigs, branches or anything of that nature to cover their trap during placement. The main goal here is to make your wire cage look less visible and more natural.
- Use bait! Using bait can increase your capture rate immensely, simply by spreading a sweet spread over your cage or leaving fruits inside. In my opinion, there are no downsides to using bait and most of the items you can use as bait for groundhogs are most likely items you already have in your kitchen, garden or yard.
- Before positioning your live cage trap, you may want to consider to wash the cage with soap to conceal the smell of human scent.
- Similar to the previous tip above; if you’re re-using a cage where you’ve trapped other animals in, it would be wise to wash the cage before positioning as it’s likely that the scent or odor from the previous animal/s are still inside which may trigger the groundhog to retreat.
- If you’re able to trap the groundhogs before october then I would highly recommend doing so as the last thing you need are the same groundhogs coming out from hibernation but this time with a family of 5. (Trust me, I’ve heard this happening before)
- Place something heavy in weight such as a brick or large rock to stop any rattling noises coming from the live capture cage trap due to wind or poking from the groundhog.
- Remember that groundhogs sleep at night and are awake throughout the day therefore in order to have the best possible chance of capturing any groundhogs on the loose you should opt to set up the trap before sunrise.
- If you’re having trouble with keeping the door of the cage open, simply use a metal rod or stick to serve as assistance.
Always remember that groundhogs are just as afraid of you as you may be afraid of them. Whatever method you decide to use, aim for it to be the most humane method.
Do Groundhogs Attack Humans?
Some people believe that groundhogs are dangerous to humans or they’ll attack us. Although groundhogs most definitely are known for their aggressive nature at times.. I believe they post no real threat towards us.
Just like many animals (and sometimes humans), when you feel threatened or fear your life is in danger you go into “fight or flight” mode. Take this example to summarise a groundhogs behaviour. They’d much rather prefer to run away and hide if ever approached however when a groundhog is feeling threatened, scared or are trying to escape your path they go into “fight or flight” mode which is why they have this stigma around them for their aggressive behaviour.
In general, I don’t believe groundhogs will ever attack a human sporadically, however, I do know they will bite/scratch you if they feel anxious, on edge, afraid of you, trying to run away from you or all of the above! If you’re ever within a close proximity to a growing or aggressive groundhog, remove yourself immediately from their path and allow them a route to run away. Being bitten or scratched by a groundhog can inflict painful scars therefore that’s why it’s important to be cautious at all times.
Remember to also take caution when in the presence of groundhogs as they are known for carrying and spreading diseases which can possibly be contracted to you if you’re bitten or scratched.
Do Groundhogs Smell Bad?
In general I would say groundhogs do not smell bad (comparing to squirrels or skunks) however, groundhogs definitely smell bad if deceased and left to decay. If you’ve ever smelt a decaying animal then you’ll understand what I’m talking about and if you haven’t then take it for granted!
The odor that wrenches from a deceased groundhog can be lethal especially if the body has been left in one area for multiple days. It’s super important to remove any dead groundhogs humanely to avoid the stink!
Similar to squirrels or skunks, it has also been noted that a groundhog can give out a malodorous odor when they feel threatened or scared. If you begin to smell this odor when you are in the presence of a groundhog, this should be an indication for you to remove yourself from their path immediately.
Are Groundhogs Nocturnal?
Groundhogs are diurnal, which means they come out in the day. This also means that they are not nocturnal or they do not come out in the night. You’ll site groundhogs mainly throughout the day as they prefer to sleep in their burrows at night.
This is why it is a good thing to remember to set up any future traps before sunrise to allow you the best possible change of capture.
How Many Babies Do Groundhogs Have?
During the season of early spring, groundhogs can give birth to a litter of up to 10 pups. A typical pregnancy for a female groundhog can last anywhere between one month and they go into hibernation around october which can last all the way until february.
Can Groundhogs Climb?
Groundhogs are more than capable of climbing a tree or two if necessary!
As we’re already aware, a groundhogs personal preference is digging holes or burrows and staying on or under the ground as much as possible compared to climbing up high. On the odd occasion however, you may observe a groundhog climbing a tree which is usually only if they are scoping out their environment or feel scared and need a safe place away from what’s threatening them.
Will A Groundhog Kill Chickens?
If you weren’t already aware, a groundhog’s preferred diet consists of fruits and vegetables. On the odd occasion, you will find them chewing bark, insects or flowers. If you’re an animal lover, a chicken owner or just curious to know if a groundhog will kill a chicken, thankfully the answer is no.
Although a groundhog is very unlikely to kill or eat a chicken, that’s not to say that they won’t act aggressive towards it if it feels scared or threatened. If you’re worried about a groundhog killing your chicken, you can rest assured that the circumstances would be very rare in order for this to happen. If you’re still uneasy about allowing your chickens roam free with a groundhog on the loose, it may be best to segregate your chickens entirely until you deal with the groundhog problem at hand and completely rid them from your property for genuine peace of mind.
How To Repel Groundhogs?
If you’re wanting to know how to repel groundhogs, thankfully there are a variety of methods you can learn and begin using immediately. In my opinion, the best way to repel groundhogs are by eliminating anything that attracts them.
If the problem area is your yard or surrounding areas for example, consider removing any open food sources or trimming down trees/branches to avoid them from coming back. You could also install electronic devices such as sprinklers to scare them along with any other unwanted pests that may roam freely when you’re least aware.
If the problem area is your garden, another effective method for repelling groundhogs are by using chemical repellent. There are a variety of repellents you can use these days and if you love to save money like myself, the good news is you can even make your own from the comfort of your home using ingredients you most likely have lying around.
Liquid repellents are handy to spray around your garden and garden structures. You can also spray directly onto trees, bushes or your plants stems for optimal efficiency. Granular repellents have the same effect when sprinkled over pathways, trees or gardens. If you opt for using repellents, remember to frequently spray/sprinkle over the target area to obtain a lasting effect. Just like installing electronic scare devices, you could also purchase electronic repellent devices around the same target areas, which in return will save you the time you would need to frequently reapply chemicals.
Important: remember to never spray liquid repellents directly onto your gardens fruit or vegetables as it may contain traces of harmful substances not recommended for consumption by humans.
What Are Groundhogs Attracted To?
If you’re dealing with the annoyance of groundhogs, then sometimes it can be beneficial for you to be aware of what they are attracted to in order for you to determine what may be pursuing them towards your property.
Like most animals, groundhogs main attraction is food (and sourcing lots of it). Thankfully, groundhogs are vegetarian therefore you’ll rarely see it scavenging your trash can or attacking similar animals unlike other pests.
Groundhogs are attracted to fruits, plants, trees, bark, vegetables and most importantly anything sweet. Be mindful that if you’re dealing with groundhog issues, you may want to look around your property and observe if you’re harvesting any of these attractions mentioned above. If you are harvesting some of these attractions, think about what you could do in order to rid them or prevent them from your property.
Difference Between Male and Female Groundhogs?
The similarities between male and female groundhogs can be quite prominent as they do indeed look similar. In my opinion, the main difference between the two would be in size.
It’s believed that a male groundhog can appear larger and is supposingly heavier by a few pounds compared next to a female.
Are Groundhogs Good For Anything?
Although groundhogs can be a nuisance for humans, they do however provide certain benefits to our ecosystem.
Groundhogs are known for their burrowing (which is mainly the reason people hire groundhog removals). These burrows can cause destruction to our yard and surrounding areas which is extremely frustrating and sometimes costly. On the other hand however, these burrows can serve as a safe haven not only for groundhogs during their hibernation and nesting period but for other animals such as squirrels, possums or skunks.
What Smells Do Groundhogs Hate?
Similar to other animals such as squirrels or possums, groundhogs hate bad odors or certain smells.
Repellents are a great way to rid groundhogs away from any area of concern. Most of the chemical repellents consist of predator urine which sure enough does the job to scare them away from whatever you’re spraying it onto.
Other smells groundhogs despise of are ammonia, castor oil, certain soaps and spice. Use any of these smells to help assist you in the prevention of groundhogs along with prevention from similar unwanted animals.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare