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Woodchucks

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Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, can be devastating to a garden and there are few remedies that work. 

How to Identify Woodchucks

The woodchuck or groundhog is a large furry rodent that is brown with a bushy tail, small ears, short legs, and curved claws. It looks a bit like a runaway fur coat as it waddles back to its burrow in fright.

This critter can grow to be about 3 feet long and can weigh up to 14 pounds. They eat everything from flowers to vegetables. Favorite foods include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lettuce, and cole crops.

See any deep tunnels in your yard, under your deck, or near your foundation? You may have a woodchuck or groundhog; they dig burrows to live in and the entrances are usually 10 to 12 inches wide with the excavated soil spread around the entrances. There are usually 2 or 3 entrances.

Woodchucks/groundhogs eat mostly during the early morning and afternoon, so try to see when your garden is receiving the most damage. These creatures will also gnaw and claw at fruit trees, so check your trees for any such marks.

How to Get Rid of Woodchucks

  • Get a big dog.
  • Plant a line of garlic near the woodchuck's entrance.
  • Sprinkle blood meal or talcum powder around the perimeter of your garden. You can try using hair clippings as well.
  • The best deterrant is a fence--a small mesh wire fence dug over a foot into the ground as the critters will try to burrow underneath it. Since woodchucks are agile, make sure the fence is at least 3 feet high.
  • Eliminate woodpiles and other places where groundhogs nest.
  • Unfortunately, one extension agent admits, "I don't know of a single remedy other than shooting, clubbing, or trapping.  Set humane traps and release them in a location far from home.

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Comments

I have a groundhog who's home

By Brandon Schwarz on May 9

I have a groundhog who's home is under my deck and his hole actually goes into my cellar, I can not reach the home in the cellar for it is in a crawl space that is to small for any adult to get into. Some one told me to put moth balls in and around the hole. The moth balls didn't work as I saw him today and it looks like he doesn't even care. I'm afraid to fence him in and then he ends up living in my cellar. I've tried live taps but all I catch are coons. I'm open to suggestions.

Hi, Brandon: Well, this is

By Almanac Staff on May 11

Hi, Brandon: Well, this is certainly a narrow topic. NOT. Please see the response to DebB below for some ideas. We are partial to hot red pepper flakes in abundance in such cases, but perhaps one thing you should really consider (besides a dog) is a blanket approach -- trying so many things at once that it just becomes not worth it to be there. We have a similar crawl space. Have you thought about blocking off the crawl space from the basement except for one opening, putting a live trap in the opening, luring it into the crawlspace with corn, and then blocking the outside hole? Otherwise, try lots of things at once: Put nasty stuff in the hole and seal it. Seal off under the deck and around it put sticks that you've smeared with mentholated petroleum jelly. Sprinkle bleach around. Sometimes you can snake black plastic drainage hose through the crawl space to the nest or home and then use it to blow or inject balls of cotton infused with menthol or something else nasty. "Thread" the hose onto long sections of the handle to a snow rake, for example, and then withdraw the pole to leave the hose where you want it. Bear in mind that this is not about preventing the woodchuck from getting into your basement, which you cannot do. It is about getting it to not want to be there in the first place. Good luck!

Thank you for your advice! I

By Brandon Schwarz on May 28

Thank you for your advice! I did end up catching it in my live trap yesterday, only to find today 4 baby woodchucks crawling around my deck. Any suggestions on how to get them all at once?

Lets face it there is no way

By Vegguy

Lets face it there is no way to effectively get rid of ground hogs, at least not in Western PA. I grow vegetables for a living and lose about $10,000 a year to them. I have killed them in every way you can imagine with no effect on their population. Once you remove one from a hole, another moves in. I have trapped groundhogs from the same hole for 20 years. There must be a way to keep new groundhogs from re-occupying holes where others have been eliminated.
Are there any chemists out there that can figure this out??

We have a Ground hog who has

By DebB

We have a Ground hog who has built a nest on the edge of our garage in the garden. The garage has a cement floor. I assume it has tunnelled underneath. We have not found an exit other than the one hole but have seen it "grazing" over at the neighbours on either side of us. I don't really want to kill it and would even be willing to just leave it be except that I am worried it might undermine my garage. Talk about dogs, I have two small ones, a Shihpoo and a Maltshi. They are interested, but don't have much affect on the ground hog although they get lots of fun out of barking in its direction. My question narrows down to the effect on the garage.

It is possible in certain

By Almanac Staff

It is possible in certain cases for a groundhog tunnel to undermine a foundation and/or cause cracks. You might want to try repelling the groundhog, to encourage it to find a home elsewhere. You can try sprinkling dried fox or coyote urine (available at garden centers or online) around the hole. Or, try motion-detector sprinklers (also available at garden centers or online) or pinwheels around the entrance. You can also try filling the hole with dirt; each time the animal may reopen it (or one nearby), but might eventually give up and move on. Usually there is at least one other entrance or exit hole, so try to find that one too (tunnels can extend 25 to 40 feet). As a last resort, you can hire an animal pest control expert to live trap it and remove it from your home. (Laws vary in cities and states as to doing this on your own; always use caution when dealing with a wild animal.)

The statement from the

By f

The statement from the extension agent refferred to above needs to get into a different line of business. That person is a like a teacher who hates kids. The compassion is gone for all nature as well as animals.
Pretty sad how we have progressed.

We have progressed to the

By bucketlist

We have progressed to the point where extension agents are hired to dispense actual knowledge. I missed the part in your post where you describe another method that works. All the other methods are temporary or only partly effective, and he knows this. Compassion does not change this reality.

Apparently, you have never

By Tall Adventurer

Apparently, you have never watched enough nature shows to realize just how predatory nature really is.

In addition, "nature" is territorial, and even groundhogs will fight and even kill other groundhogs to protect their property. Groundhogs also will attack if cornered, which can happen by just startling them. When in my yard where my grandchildren play ... not acceptable.

So, I should capture them and dump them where someone else has the problem, or where they have to fight because they are intruding on another hogs territory?

Pretty sad how some think rodents have the same value as human beings.

I just picked up an injured

By Mittmah

I just picked up an injured groundhog a few days ago and it made absolutely no attempt to 'attack'.. smh. You say they are in YOUR yard when in actuality the animals were living there first and you have intruded on their land. I am glad my 4 year old niece is being raised to have compassion for all animals and is not being falsely told by adults that a groundhog or squirrel is going to attack her. What's not acceptable is you killing wildlife and teaching cruelty to children.

I am proud of you for finding

By bucketlist

I am proud of you for finding a way to live floating in the sky where you aren't intruding on any terrestrial wildlife habitat. But have you considered your impact on the flying space of birds?

It is a known fact that

By bucketlist

It is a known fact that woodchucks can be dangerous. Not an opinion, not a theory. They do not understand your compassion. Please do not teach your children ignorance of the real world just because some parts of it don't fit your dream of blissful coexistence.

I can understand your

By Diamonddoodle

I can understand your concern. I also dislike killing of any kind. You were very lucky you didn't get bitten. Woodchucks, like other rodents can carry rabies. please get rid of them and do not let your granddaughter anywhere around wild animals. Rabies is most painful and doesn't always end good.

U say fence,dogs,urine

By Donna L

U say fence,dogs,urine ect.Then y my dog have huge holes in her 30x30 dog pen and she just killed one in her pen?????.Now what can i do?ty

What can I use to repel

By Marie Knobel

What can I use to repel ground hogs that is safe for chickens to get into. We eat our hen eggs so I don't want us or the chickens to get sick. Our persistent groundhog found the new location of squash (all types). We do have a 4 foot fence but alas it is not buried.

It is my personal experience

By JAMES09

It is my personal experience that there are only 3 things you can do with ground hogs;

#1) you live with them

#2) you shoot them for food-ONLY for food(good eating too!! there is a "how to" in farmer's Almanac)

#3) fence them off.
============================
Fencing them off does not have to be expensive. In the farmer's almanac it says to put the fencing 10'' - 12'' in the ground...I say that is not enough...18" to 24" would be best, and if you are going to put fencing in the ground, it had better be a very strong type of fencing(IE:chain link is best).
Check around at fencing dealers & see if they have any chain link fencing they want to unload. Some times you can get this for free or super cheap.

My personal favorite way to deal with Ground Hogs is to have them for dinner. This keeps the Ground Hog population down, feeds the family & is good for the farm as a whole.

A mesh fence buried a foot

By Almanac Staff

A mesh fence buried a foot deep really is the best solution, but there are other options. Readers have told us that they've had luck with electric fencing. Have you tried the solutions above? Many of them are safe for chickens. Try planting a line of garlic near the entrance. Also, try spreading Grapefruit-sized clumps of dog and/or cat hair throughout planted areas. A dog or two would also help the situation. Best of luck!

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