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Elimination

If you can control its source of food and deprive it of its shelter, a groundhog may move away.

Applying liquid repellent to whatever the groundhog is eating or granular repellent near the area where it is wreaking havoc can prove effective in some cases.

If a groundhog has taken up residence in your yard, cages are still your best bet to rid yourself of the rodent. You can rent some at our head office store .

If you choose to go that route, we recommend using peanut butter, lettuce, carrots, sweet corn, and peas as bait, in addition to an apple wedge to prevent the animal from becoming dehydrated. Following capture, the groundhog should be moved at least 15 to 20 km away before being released so as to avoid its return.

We recommend filling in groundhog burrows after capture to prevent another from settling in.

Actions

  • Capture animals with a wildlife trap designed for that purpose
  • Release animals at least 20 km away

Prevention

  • Block off the space under sheds, porches, and other structures

Description and development

A diurnal species, groundhogs inhabit pastures, sparse forests, rocky slopes, and rugged terrain strewn with rocks and stumps. They live in burrows (120–150 cm deep) with networks of tunnels sometimes exceeding 8 meters in total length. Burrows typically have 2 to 5 entry points, with tunnels connecting to various chambers. Groundhogs may also take up residence under the patio or shed in the backyard.

Their fur varies from light to dark brown, the belly being rather light and the short, stubby paws black.
The mating season begins shortly after hibernation, with females giving birth to 4 or 5 young in May. Kits (or cubs) start to venture out of the burrow at weaning, about 5 to 6 weeks later. Some of them spend the winter with their mother, but they generally leave her side after 2 months. Groundhogs can live 4 to 6 years in the wild.

Habits

As herbivores, groundhogs feed mainly on green plants (clover, alfalfa, buttercups, dandelions, plantains). They are not averse to eating the bark or twigs of some shrubs and will, on occasion, consume garden fruits and vegetables as well as certain insects. They have also been known to feed on rockery flowers from time to time.

Groundhogs are sedentary and solitary creatures. Curious by nature, they climb mounds and hills to examine their surroundings. They spend long hours basking in the sun, using the rest of their time to search for food. At the slightest sign of danger, groundhogs warn each other with spasmodic, high-pitched cries, hence the name "whistle pigs." Groundhogs have excellent vision and hearing. They climb and swim with ease and, thanks to their strong forepaws, can vanish beneath the surface of any soft ground in an instant.

Groundhogs hibernate from October to March, only waking up periodically to urinate or defecate. They seldom leave their den before February and even then, only if the weather is mild enough.

Tips

Wondering if groundhogs serve any purpose? Well, the holes they dig aerate the soil and their manure fertilizes it. Groundhog meat is also edible and quite tasty. However, they have a tendency to damage crops and their burrows can provide shelter for other small animals.

It is important to understand that deforestation and agriculture have benefitted groundhogs and encouraged their growth.

Photo of the groundhog in cage published with the authorization of photographer Nicolas Barsalou

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