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Getting rid of groundhogs

Abell Pest Control

Unlike some animals that may simply knock over your garbage cans or munch on your garden, groundhogs can cause serious damage to your backyard. Also called woodchucks or whistle-pigs, these burrowing rodents dig extensive burrows that can cause permanent harm to your yard or home.

For homeowners, knowing how to identify a groundhog is important, and from there, safely removing the animal requires a bit of know-how. Here's what you need to know about getting rid of groundhogs.

Spotting a groundhog
According to National Geographic, these large rodents can grow to almost 13 pounds in weight. Members of the marmot family, groundhogs are closely related to squirrels. However, instead of hibernating high in the trees, groundhogs build deep tunnels to avoid predators and to also survive the cold winter. These animals are found throughout most of the eastern U.S. and southern Canada.

A single groundhog can build a rather extensive network of tunnels, including individual chambers for using the bathroom. As such, one of the first signs that a groundhog has moved into your yard is unearthed soil or dirt. These creatures may use the side of a home, porch or even tree as the entrance to a burrow, and catching a groundhog before it can begin to build its tunnels is important for avoiding serious damage.

Havahart reported that along with a physical burrow, groundhogs may leave behind other signals for homeowners to look out for. For example, there may be deep holes in your lawn, or damage to backyard crops or veggies. Even simple tracks may be useful for spotting a groundhog. Unfortunately, many folks may not realize their yard has been invaded by one of these borrowing rodents until there is already damage. This can include a weakened foundation, as well as chewed wires or tubing.

Removing any animals
Once you have identified a groundhog burrow, your first instinct may be to simply fill it in with soil. Even if the animal is inside, this is usually ineffective, and the groundhog will simply dig itself out. Similarly, if you destroy the tunnels when the groundhog is out foraging, it will likely begin a new burrow.

Your best bet is to trap your groundhog and release the animal far away from your home. These creatures can be surprisingly defensive, and have massive front teeth that can deliver a very nasty bite. For that reason, using a cage trap is better than removing the groundhog by hand. Mother Earth News suggested placing a few tasty treats inside of a large trap and placing it near the entrance of a burrow. If the groundhog has an extensive network of tunnels and multiple ground-level openings, use a plank of wood to ensure the animal comes in and out near your trap. If you have difficulty luring your groundhog, consider calling in a professional pest service.

Preventing a groundhog from returning entails dropping it off away from your property at a local park or green space. Check with local officials for rules and regulations related to the release of a wild animal. Otherwise, your next step is to prevent any groundhogs or other burrowing animals from damaging your home in the future.

Because groundhogs can move hundreds of pounds of dirt, keeping these critters out is a worthy investment. Installing chicken wire or other fencing around a porch, shed or garage is a way to keep groundhogs from becoming a problem in the first place. Be sure to install any exclusion tools deep into the earth so that any groundhog can't get underneath.

About the author:

Abell Pest Control is a family owned Canadian company dedicated to providing effective, professional and courteous service in pest management.Started in 1924 with one office, Abell now employs several hundred people with branch offices across Canada and the United States.

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