12 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs for Good
The groundhog shown in the movie Groundhog Day looks like a cute little creature, but, in reality, there's nothing cute about these animals. A groundhog (Marmota monax)—otherwise known as a woodchuck, land beaver, or whistle pig—is a rodent. It will mercilessly eat the plants in your garden until there's nothing left and will make holes all over your yard.
How to Get Rid of Groundhogs
- Bait the groundhog into a trap, catch it, and then release it in a wooded area five miles away from your home.
- Create vibrations in the ground to scare them away.
- Smoke them out of their tunnel.
- Pour ammonia down their tunnel.
- Deter with garlic and pepper.
- Get a dog or cat (or sprinkle their urine and fur around the yard).
- Scatter human hair around the yard.
- Use agricultural lime to burn their feet.
- Sprinkle talcum powder in the garden.
- Use fencing and chicken wire as prevention.
- Use animal repellent.
- Shoot and eat them.
1. Use a Box Trap to Catch a Groundhog
Perhaps one of the most humane ways to get rid of groundhogs is to trap them and then release them somewhere far away. Groundhogs are not usually aggressive animals but will bite when they feel threatened, so please wear thick gloves when catching and releasing.
How to Trap a Groundhog:
- Wear thick rubber gloves so that you don't transfer your scent onto the trap. If they can smell that a human has handled the trap, they will not go near it.
- Place the trap 5 to 10 feet from the entrance of their burrow.
- Camouflage the trap by spraying it with water and rolling it in dirt. Then throw some twigs, leaves, grass, and/or branches on top of, around, and inside the trap. Also, place a brick or two on top of the cage to keep it from rattling and scaring the groundhog away.
- Bait the trap with fruits or whatever your groundhog loves eating from your garden. Groundhogs are especially attracted to sweet fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, peaches, or corn. They also love lettuce, cucumber, and green beans. Place the bait all the way inside the trap so that the groundhog has to enter the trap fully. You can also create a bait trail leading up to the trap.
- Keep a close watch on the cage because once the groundhog is trapped, it will grow anxious and might injure itself. Wear thick gloves to avoid catching diseases, cover the cage with a towel to keep the groundhog calm, and hold the trap away from your body when transferring to your car.
- Drive to an area at least 5 miles away (10 miles is even better). Make sure the area where you choose to release the groundhog is covered (a wooded area with lots of trees, logs, and groundcover). Groundhogs feel comfortable living in covered areas and won't make their way back to your yard or someone else's yard if they feel safe enough to build their home there.
What's the Best Bait to Trap a Groundhog?
Groundhogs love all fruits, but they go crazy for cantaloupe, and it is the best bait to use for a successful catch. Rub the inside and outside of the trap with cantaloupe, and then place a few pieces of cantaloupe cut into 2-inch cubes all the way inside the trap. You can also create a cantaloupe trail leading into the trap.
Should I Use a Live Trap or a Lethal Trap?
People have found the most success when using a one-door live trap (cage trap) that is about 12"x12"x32". These types of traps trigger the door to close behind the animal when it enters. Stay away from lethal traps, which snap shut around the body and kills the groundhog. You may have a hard time disposing of the carcass, and a dead groundhog may attract other unwanted animals to your garden. There's also the risk that a domestic pet, such as a cat, may enter the trap and get killed.
Note: In some states, trapping is illegal, so be sure to check your state's laws if you plan to use this method. If the state allows it, this might be a great way to get even with an enemy. The Hatfields and McCoys would approve.
2. Create Vibrations in the Ground
These animals don't like vibrations and will move if their home is constantly shaking. Place lawn windmills, spinning pinwheels, or a vibrating sonic device near the entrance of their burrow or on top of their burrow to scare the groundhogs away. Windchimes are also great disturbances. If you place vibrating devices around the perimeters of your yard, it will deter the groundhog from coming near.
3. Smoke Them Out
Fumigation kills the groundhog while it is inside the burrow. The easiest way is to buy gas cartridges (also known as gas bombs). They are usually sold at garden centers or can be found on Amazon. Make sure the groundhog is inside the hole before fumigating. This may take a bit of time for observation. Once you're sure the groundhog is inside, fill all of the entrances except one. Then light the gas cartridge, throw it into the open entrance, and quickly fill it up with dirt to trap the groundhog and the carbon monoxide inside.
Some people also run a hose from their car's exhaust and release the fumes into the groundhog's hole. Again, be sure to block all of the holes. Both of these methods will kill the groundhog or make him run for miles if he finds a way out.
4. Pour Ammonia Down the Groundhog's Tunnel
My preferred method for getting rid of groundhogs is to pour ammonia down their tunnel; they will immediately stop using it. I haven't seen a single groundhog after using this technique. It's possible that they made new tunnels in the woods behind us or have run to the neighbors yard, but no new groundhogs have appeared thus far. Make sure you find all of the holes because there are almost always several of them. You made need to do this over several days to effectively scare them away for good. This method worked well for my mother too. She had groundhogs digging under the foundation of her barn, and the ammonia worked like a charm. The best outcome you can hope for with this method is that the groundhogs will make new holes elsewhere, or they will be gone long enough for you to build fences around your yard and prevent them from digging back into your property.
How to Make Ammonia Solution
- Always wear gloves and goggles when handling ammonia because it can burn your skin and highly irritate your eyes.
- If you can't buy sudsy ammonia, you can make your own by mixing 3 parts water with 1 part ammonia, plus a squirt of dishwashing detergent. Pour the solution down their holes. This creates fumes that the woodchuck or groundhog cannot bear. You can also spray the solution around the entrances and exists of their tunnels.
- If you want to make the solution even more potent, add castor oil and cayenne pepper. They hate the smell of castor oil and the taste of pepper.
5. Deter With Garlic and Pepper
Groundhogs hate the smell of garlic and pepper. To deter them from ever returning to your garden, crush some garlic and pepper and throw it into their burrows. Do this day after day until they flee.
You can also make a garlic and pepper spray to spray your vegetables. Woodchucks will not touch a single thing that smells pungent or spicy. For added protection, scatter the crushed garlic and pepper around your garden to prevent them from entering.
6. Get a Dog or a Cat (or Use Their Urine and Fur)
Dogs are cats pose a threat to the groundhog and are seen as predators. The groundhog will move someplace else if it feels like it can't live in peace. If you don't have a dog or a cat or can't get one, borrow some dog or cat urine and/or dog or cat hair and sprinkle it around your garden. If you can locate their burrows pour dog urine or cat litter in and around their entrances. This will definitely prompt them to move away. You can prevent them from coming back by pouring urine and sprinkling hair around the perimeters of your yard as well.
7. Sprinkle Human Hair Around the Yard
Humans are also threatening to the woodchuck, so spoiling their natural habit with the scent humans will scare them away for good. Take some clippings of your hair and secure inside a mesh bag. Stake the bag into the ground around your garden to prevent them from entering. Also throw a bunch of hair clippings into their burrows. This will drive them mad with paranoia.
8. Use Lime to Burn Their Feet
If you spread some agricultural lime near the hole's entrance, it will burn the animal's feet, and it will go someplace else. You can also spread lime around plants you'd like to prevent from being eaten.
9. Sprinkle Talcum Powder in the Garden
Groundhogs will steer clear of anything treated with talcum powder because they hate the smell, so it is effective with preventing groundhogs from eating your garden, but it may not be strong enough to deter them from burrowing and creating tunnels in your yard.
10. Use Fencing and Chicken Wire as Prevention
To keep them from entering your yard once you scare them away or get rid of them, build fencing at least 2 feet deep into the ground to prevent digging and least 3 feet tall to prevent them from jumping over the fencing!
If your main concern is protecting your plants, then deter from digging by planting chicken wire in an L-shape. Bend the bottom part of the chicken wire at 90 degrees (into an L shape). When you plant the chicken wire, the L should point away from your garden. This way, when the woodchuck digs, he will hit the mesh and turn around.
11. Use Animal Repellent
Purchase some animal repellent at the store. I found it for around eight or nine dollars last year at Walmart. Although animal repellent may work for discouraging groundhogs from eating your vegetables, it is not strong enough to get rid of groundhogs. Plus, you will need to keeping spraying repellent in your garden everyday.
12. Shoot and Eat Them
I've heard they taste great. The best method is to braise the groundhog like you would a rabbit. Since I'm not into guns, I don't use this method.
Note: Be sure to remove the scent glands from under the armpits. If you don't, they can ruin the meat. The scent gland looks like a yellow kernel of fat.
Do Mothballs Keep Groundhogs Away?
Groundhogs hate the smell of mothballs, but the truth is, they are just not strong enough to scare these rodents away. Some people report mild levels of success, but most people say mothballs don't work at all. In brief, mothballs are not a strong deterrence against groundhogs, and you would be wise to use more effective methods, such as trapping or spraying ammonia.
Have You Ever Had to Deal With Woodchucks in Your Yard?
How to Keep Groundhogs Away Forever
Once you've successfully removed every groundhog from your property, take preventive measures.
- Build a fence at least 2 feet into the ground and 3 feet tall.
- Spray the fencing and the perimeters of your property with pepper spray. Spray your garden as well.
- Put some cat or dog hair into some mesh bags, and stake the bags into the ground around the fencing. Also place some crushed garlic or pepper anywhere you want to prevent the groundhog from entering.
- Groundhogs hibernate from September to early October. Harvest vegetables as early as possible so that there won't be any available food for them when they come out of hibernation.
- Groundhogs feel endangered in exposed spaces. Trim back overgrown foliage, and remove piles of dirt or leaves. With few places to hide or take cover, the groundhog will not feel safe enough to make tunnels. If there are already tunnels from previous groundhogs, fill them in!
- Use vibrating devices to make the ground shake. This scares the groundhog away!
What Is a Woodchuck or Groundhog?
Woodchucks don't eat wood at all. The saying, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood," is just a saying and nothing more. Their main food sources are vegetation, grass, nuts, and small insects, like grubs. They will also occasionally eat smaller animals.
These animals usually weight from four to nine pounds, but in ideal conditions, they can weigh as much as 31 pounds. On average, they live about six years but have been known to live in zoos for as long as 14 years.
Groundhogs make underground tunnel systems that feature holes as entrances and exits in the ground. These provide safety for the groundhogs when a predator is in their midst but are unsightly wreaking havoc on lawns.
A member of the marmot family and the relative of ground squirrels, the groundhog is a lowland creature that hibernates during the winter months. A separate hole is usually dug just for this purpose. If you plan on killing the animal in its burrow, don't do it during winter because their hole will be closed off. New tunnels are dug when the animal awakens in the spring, so methods such as trapping and poisining are best done during spring.
Groundhogs can usually be seen standing on their hind legs in an alert position, guarding themselves and other groundhogs. The reason some people call them whistle pigs is because they'll let out a shrill whistle to warn other groundhogs of danger.
Sometimes, instead of hiding, groundhogs will go on the offensive. Stay away from groundhogs. They can be aggressive animals when they feel threatened, and they have sharp claws. To them, everyone is a predator, which is yet another reason to oust them from your property.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Does ammonia work on getting rid of groundhogs if you don’t mix it in with dirt? Can I just spray the dirt with it?
Yes, just so you spray it in the area where the groundhog will enter or exit.Helpful 146
How much ammonia should I use to get rid of groundhogs?
I used half of a small bottle of ammonia. That sounds like a lot, but ammonia is cheap, and I would rather have too much than not enough.Helpful 78
I have a groundhog living under my house in a tunnel created between the floor joists. There is no tunnel apparent around my house. How the heck did it get in there, the entrance is a metal door?
The only thing I can think of is to trap the animal.Helpful 39
How can I ensure that the groundhog is out before I close a hole? I don't want to trap him under my house.
Groundhogs can have tunnels two miles long. I think he'd just start another one to get out from under your house. Their holes also have an entrance and an exit, since they are tunnels, not just holes.Helpful 37
Will moth balls keep groundhogs away?
They probably won't like the smell, so maybe it will work. If it does, let me know.Helpful 22