Eight Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs

Updated on December 2, 2017
Woodchuck Eating
Woodchuck Eating | Source

What Is a Woodchuck or Groundhog?

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—otherwise known as a woodchuck, land beaver, or whistle pig—is a rodent. They will mercilessly eat the plants in your garden until there's nothing left and will make holes all over your yard.

Woodchucks don't eat wood at all. The saying, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood," is just that: 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. New tunnels are dug when the animal awakens in the 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 are aggressive animals with sharp claws. To them, everyone is a predator, which is yet another reason to oust them from your property.

Eight Ways to Get Rid of (or Control) Groundhogs

  1. Shoot and eat. They are said to 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. It looks like a yellow kernel of fat.)
  2. Use a box trap. Once you've caught the groundhog, take it miles away and let it loose. In some states this is illegal, so be sure to check your state's laws if you plan to use this method. If the state allows is, this might be a great way to get even with an enemy. The Hatfields and McCoys would approve.
  3. Smoke them out. Some people run a hose from their car's exhaust and release the fumes into the groundhog's hole. Be sure to block all of the other holes if you use this method. This will kill the groundhog or make him run for miles if it finds a way out.
  4. Use ammonia. If you pour ammonia down a groundhog's hole, it will stop using it. Make sure you find all of the holes, because there are almost always several. The best outcome you can hope for with this method is that the groundhog will make new holes elsewhere. (Note: This method worked well for my mother. She had groundhogs digging under the foundation of her barn. The ammonia worked like a charm.)
  5. Use lime. 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 spread lime around plants you'd like to prevent from being eaten, too.
  6. Create vibrations in the ground. These animals don't like vibrations. Use lawn windmills or a vibrating sonic device to scare the groundhogs away.
  7. Use chicken wire. If your main concern is protecting your plants, you can stop prevent the creation of underground tunnels by burying chicken wire at least 18" below the perimeter of your garden.
  8. Use animal repellant. Purchase some animal repellent at the store. I found it for around eight or nine dollars last year at Walmart.

Woodchuck in a Tree
Woodchuck in a Tree | Source

My Preferred Method for Getting Rid of Groundhogs

I haven't seen a groundhog after using the ammonia technique. It's possible that they made new tunnels in the woods behind us or have run to the neighbors yard, but I'll have to give an update at the end of the summer.

Still, no new groundhogs have appeared thus far.

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    • profile image

      Patricia 4 months ago

      We have trapped 12 groundhogs that were going under in ground pool. I'm going to try ammonia and also lime.hope this works. Thanks

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 22 months ago from USA

      Jake, It is too bad that they make such a mess in the yard. Otherwise I'd just live with them. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Jake C. 22 months ago

      In my years of living in my current house (since '92) I dont think ive ever had a year without seeing some ground hogs. I always poured mothballs dowb the hole. That usualy scares em off but if I ever see one in my yard, a ruger 10/22 with high velocity rounds usually does the trick. And usually if you kill one, the rest leave.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 2 years ago from USA

      leprecaun, We live in a subdivision with 50 houses. We have the problem too and it can be disgusting.

    • profile image

      leprecaun 2 years ago

      This is not the first time I've had a groundhog. Last year I used nearly a whole bag of lime around the two holes and thought he was gone so I filled them. One is under my steps.....this year, he is back and the lime does nothing to his feet....he's redug near the old holes....made a complete mess of my steps again.....I'm gonna get some ammonia.....I live in the city for crying out loud.....

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 4 years ago from USA

      John, I've heard that works for moles. It should work for ground hogs then too.

    • profile image

      john 4 years ago

      I heard you can also use this to Get an apple and core out the center

      take a piece of gum (juicy fruit) take off the wrapper stick it in the middle of the apple. They will smell the fruit from the gum and eat the apple when they bite the gum they will it and wont be able to swallow it and they will die someplace

      I have not tried this yet i don't like killing this way but i may have to they r under my deck.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      The- Quietwarrior, It is worth trying on moles. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • The-Quietwarrior profile image

      The-Quietwarrior 5 years ago

      I wonder if this will also work for moles... Good article..

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      A Little Truth, My Mom has trouble with them tunneling under her pole barn, so she isn't happy at all. We're in Michigan too, so it must be a real problem here. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • A Little TRUTH profile image

      A Little TRUTH 5 years ago

      Thanks, lots of good remedies to choose from!

      I've had ground hogs in two homes in Michigan. At the fist one, they all disappeared when we got a Great Dane. At the second, we just let them be since they didn't bother the grass or garden. The only problems were that they got so big, fat and complacent that I had to be careful not to run them over with my big commercial lawnmower; and potential interactions with the grandkids.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      Repub, Thanks for reading and commenting. I'll have to check yours out.

    • The Republican profile image

      The Republican 5 years ago from USA

      Hi, good ideas, and you make a good point. could you read my writings?

      Thank you, Repub.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      EuroNinila, Thanks for reading. We have shrews in the yard now. I guess they can't hurt anything though. I haven't heard of "have a heart" traps before. Thanks for sharing.

    • EuroNinila profile image

      Fotinoula Gypsyy 5 years ago from NYC BABY

      Great hub, I can't believe people eat them though! We put "have a heart" traps in our yard for pesky little animals that eat our garden! Great hub, sharing!

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      brmom68, Thank for reading and I hope one of these tricks works for you.

    • brsmom68 profile image

      Diane Ziomek 5 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      We have a pocket gopher who likes to make an appearance in our lawn every now and again. I will have to try one of these tricks next time he shows himself (or a new mound of dirt pops up). Voted up, useful and shared.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      teaches, Thanks for reading. Along with the beautiful days of summer are some problems like this to deal with. Thanks for commenting.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      A friend of mine had these critters digging holes around the foundation of the home and they had to get animal control to help chase them out. Great advice on this hub, too late for my friend but I am sure others will find this helpful.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      Tim, I think you are right. So far the ammonia is working for me. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Tim Schuler 5 years ago

      Great tips! Sometimes I think the groundhogs watch what you plant and spot what they think you love the most and target those plants and eat them down the ground in the blink of an eye.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      CrazedNovelist, Thanks for reading and I hope you don't have to deal with them either.

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 5 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Great hub... I hope I never had to deal with a groundhog lol. Thanks for the writing. Always a pleasure,

      -Aubrey.

    • Barbara Kay profile image
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      Barbara Badder 5 years ago from USA

      moonlake, They don't seem so cute when they eat all of your garden though. I'm hoping the ammonia is working and they find a new place to call home.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      But they're so cute. We had one on our land but when we started building a house he moved. Voted up on your hub. Good information I'm sure many people need.