How to Get Rid of Groundhogs

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 16, 2024

Groundhogs are known as cute indicators that spring is on the way, but they can also be a hassle for homeowners. These creatures, also known as woodchucks, can easily damage yards, gardens, and crops. There are plenty of ways to keep groundhogs away from your property, though. Read our guide to help you identify a groundhog problem, mitigate groundhog damage, and deter them from returning to your outdoor space.


Identifying Groundhogs

Groundhogs are small, stocky animals with short legs and bushy tails. Their bristled fur can be yellowish-brown or black, and they have small eyes and ears. Groundhogs weigh between 7 and 14 pounds and are about 2 feet long, including their tails. You may see them in meadows, pastures, crop fields, and areas covered in weeds.

Groundhogs live in underground burrows that usually run for several feet. Groundhog burrows typically include two or three openings that function as entrances and escapes, and each ranges between 8 and 12 inches wide. If you see a large mound of dirt in front of a hole, it’s probably a groundhog burrow.

Time is of the essence when finding the right moment to evict groundhogs. If you remove them too early, their young might be left behind. If you wait too long, they may not be able to find new spaces in which to hibernate during winter.

Groundhog Behavior

Groundhogs use their sharp claws to dig underground dens, which extend into living quarters, exits, and latrines through a tunnel system. They frequently leave their burrows and venture above ground to consume as much vegetation as possible in preparation for wintertime hibernation, which lasts from October until February.

These herbivores eat grasses, leaves, ferns, fruits, and vegetables. A groundhog can eat more than a pound of vegetation each day despite its small stature. Carrot tops, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, zucchini, squash, and lettuce are some of its favorite foods.

Groundhogs usually live alone, except when a mother is raising her young. These creatures breed in early spring and have a gestation period of about a month. Groundhogs will venture out to find their own territory when they’re only a few months old.


Damage Caused by Groundhogs

Groundhogs spend most of their time underground, causing very few issues. They can, however, cause significant damage to homes and properties with gardens or farms.

Here’s the type of damage you should watch for if you suspect that groundhogs are attacking your property:

Homeowners may have to pay as much as $4,000 for foundation damage caused by groundhogs. Agricultural properties fare even worse, with the damage caused by groundhogs potentially affecting livestock, expensive equipment, farm buildings, and crops.


DIY Groundhog Removal

It’s essential to prevent groundhogs from burrowing too close to homes or farmlands. Read through several do-it-yourself (DIY) techniques for getting rid of groundhogs below, remembering that your main goals are eviction and exclusion.

Fencing

Bury fences around vegetable gardens at least 12 inches into the ground to prevent groundhogs from burrowing beneath them, and extend fencing at least 3 feet above the ground. Place an electric wire outside the fence, too, to discourage digging.

Habitat Changes

Scarecrows and shiny objects like pie pans on strings can frighten groundhogs and keep them away, especially if you move them around. Human and animal foot traffic on top of a suspected groundhog den can also be a useful form of deterrence.

Groundhogs are most comfortable in tall vegetation, which can serve as a natural defense. Remove vegetation from around the entrance of a den to make groundhogs feel insecure.

Relocation

Relocation is frequently the best option for getting rid of groundhogs. You can capture groundhogs in live traps with fresh fruits or vegetables. Once groundhogs are inside the traps, move them to a new location and open the door to send them on their way. You must have permission to release a groundhog onto a property you don’t own, though. Seal the original burrow to prevent groundhogs from returning.

Repellents

Use repellants to make burrows and surrounding areas unpleasant for groundhogs. Repellants are harmless substances that have an offensive smell or taste.

Spread groundhog repellents around gardens and flower beds to discourage the critters from eating your veggies and plants. Also spread repellants in burrow entryways to pressure the groundhogs to move on. Popular choices of deterrents include the following:

Repellants can also be used to keep other garden pests like voles, gophers, marmots, chipmunks, and raccoons away. We recommend using them as a safe and harmless method to discourage groundhogs from living beneath your property.


Keeping Groundhogs Away

Once you’ve removed groundhogs from your land, you must keep them from reclaiming their old burrows. Groundhogs’ highly developed sense of smell helps them locate burrows that were previously occupied. 

Check that a burrow is unoccupied before sealing it. You can do this by stuffing the entry and exit points with vegetation such as tall grass and flexible plants. If the filling is still there several days later, it’s safe to assume that the burrow is empty.

Proceed to seal off the entry and exit points of the burrow more permanently by closing them off with wire fencing. Cut heavy welded fencing wire, such as chicken wire, into sections that are 3 square feet. Center a piece of wire in each groundhog hole and bury it at least 1 foot deep.

Use Humane Solutions

Groundhogs are generally a harmless species, and you should try to remove them humanely without hurting or killing them. Besides being cruel, Inhumane solutions could even cause damage to your property. Killing groundhogs with poison leads to a slow and painful death, and might even harm any predators that find groundhog carcasses. Lethal traps and steel-jawed traps similarly cause pain to groundhogs and could even trap the wrong animal. Finally, using ammonia gas or agricultural lime as fumigation methods can damage an animal’s respiratory system or burn its feet.


Professional Groundhog Removal

If you aren’t ready to remove groundhogs using DIY methods, contact a professional pest control company for assistance. An exterminator can guarantee results, and an inspection is the best way to make sure that you’re dealing with groundhogs.

Professionals use a variety of tactics to remove groundhogs from a property, and these services typically cost between $150 and $300. Prices vary based on the location of the animal, removal methods, and the difficulty of removal. Taking a groundhog out of a tunnel in your yard will probably be cheaper than removing one from beneath your home’s foundation, for example.

Professional groundhog removal methods include the following:


Our Recommendation

There are plenty of harmless methods to remove groundhogs from your property and keep them away. Consider protecting potential food sources with barriers, humanely trap groundhogs before moving them to new areas, or call in professionals to help you keep your property intact. If you take action early, you can prevent damages and keep the groundhogs safe, too.


How to Get Rid of Groundhogs FAQ

What do groundhogs hate the most?

Groundhogs hate strong smells including urine-saturated cat litter, garlic, lavender, chives, basil, peppermint, cayenne, sage, thyme, and oregano.

How do I get rid of a groundhog under my shed?

Get rid of groundhogs under your shed by spreading strong-smelling deterrents under the shed and at the burrow entry, if you have access.

What kills groundhogs fast?

Poisons and traps can kill groundhogs fast but are inhumane and may be illegal in your location. The most effective way to remove groundhogs from your property is by seeking assistance from an experienced pest control company.

What are the signs of a groundhog infestation?

The signature signs of a groundhog infestation are piles of dirt, holes, and tunnels that signify digging. Other signs include high-pitched whistling sounds, disappearing vegetables, and vegetation with teeth marks.

Are groundhogs dangerous to pets or humans?

Groundhogs are rarely dangerous to pets or humans. However, they will defend themselves, their kits, and their territory when they feel threatened.