How to get rid of Groundhogs

how to get rid of groundhogs marmota monax

In order to remove groundhogs from your property, you will need to implement an integrated control plan, which will include: trapping and relocating the groundhogs that are currently disturbing you; excluding any other groundhogs that may potentially enter your property once they realize the territory no longer “belongs” to anybody; and preventing a general interest in your property by making it less “appealing”. In developing this plan, the first step will always be to find the groundhog, figure out where it has its burrow, where it spends most of its time, and what are some of its most prominent habits. Once you have this information, you can start your research on different ways to remove, exclude, and prevent, eventually choosing the ones that will be most efficient depending on your situation.

how to get rid of groundhogs marmota monax


The easiest way to locate the groundhog on your property is to find its burrow. this can be done, in turn, by finding its entrances and exists. Each groundhog burrow will generally have 2 – 5 entrance holes of around 15 – 20cm in diameter, and, because groundhogs try to conceal them, you will most often be able to find them underneath vegetation, loose leaves, and/or twigs.
If, in the first instance, you are unsure that the pest you are confronting really is a groundhog, you can identify groundhog-specific damage by:

  • tracks that have 5 toes on the front feet and 4 on the back feet, with profound claw marks;
  • damaged crops;
  • deep holes in the ground;
  • mounds of soil outside a hole (i.e. a burrow entrance);
  • weakened building foundations;
  • teeth marks on wood, the low branches of trees, and plants;
  • teeth marks on tubes, wires, or irrigation systems; alternatively, these can also be chewed right through.


Prevention is the easiest way to ensure that your property is a pest-free zone. Most pests are attracted to places that provide them with food and shelter, and groundhogs are no different. Therefore, what you can do is:

  • harvest crops (e.g. beans, peas, melons) as early as possible;
  • remove any sources of wood that could provide groundhogs with material to gnaw or grind teeth on;
  • trim plants, bushes, or trees that could be used as both food and shelter;
  • remove piles of debris, rocks, or wood in order to eliminate places that could provide groundhogs with ample cover;
  • using gravel, fill in any abandoned burrows; before doing this, however, make sure to check that there are no live groundhogs (or other animals) inside.

Types of groundhog control measures

Traps for Groundhogs control:

Traps are used to monitor or reduce the population of insects or other pests. They can be used against crawling, flying insects, mice, rats, cats, dogs, snakes or other pests. Mechanical traps are ideal for catching groundhogs, as they can be used repetitively.

The most effective way to remove a groundhog from your property is using a live trap. This will need to be around 80 – 100cm in length and will need to be set 1 – 3m from the entrance of the groundhog’s burrow. Otherwise, if you are unable to locate a burrow, you can place the trap in an area that you have seen the groundhog frequent or where you have noticed the most groundhog damage. Baits include basically anything that you have noticed the groundhog eat from your garden, such as: peas, sweet corn, beans, strawberries, peaches, lettuce, etc.; it is also known that groundhogs are particularly fond of cantaloupe.

Because groundhogs are naturally cautious creatures, here are some useful tips to help towards successfully implementing this method:

  • when handling the trap, wear gloves in order to avoid leaving your scent on it;
  • place loose leaves, twigs, branches, dirt, and/or grass on top, on the sides, as well as inside the trap, so that the groundhog feels more comfortable entering it;
  • for the same reasons, if you want to go the extra mile, you can spray the trap with water and roll it in the mud to camouflage it even better;
  • set the bait all the way to the back of the cage, so that the groundhog has no other option than to fully enter the cage, and the door can close securely behind it; if you are using a 2-door-trap, you should set the bait in the middle of the cage;
  • ensure that the surface the trap lies on is even and that the trap is stable; you can also place 2 – 3 bricks on top of it to ensure this; if the trap cannot move, then the groundhog cannot escape by tipping it over.

Once you have set your trap, it can take anywhere between a couple of minutes and a couple of days to actually catch a groundhog. Be sure to check regularly! Groundhogs become anxious when trapped, even more so when hungry, so finding the animal in good time is crucial. Otherwise, it can end up injuring itself or can become so aggressive that you may end up injured in trying to remove the trap.

Having trapped the groundhog, here is how you go about removing it from your property:

  • cover the trap with a cloth to keep the groundhog as calm as possible;
  • wear heavy-duty gloves and hold the trap away from your body;
  • relocate the groundhog at least 8km away from your property, preferably in an area that provides food and shelter, so that the groundhog does not feel tempted to try to return;
  • stand away from the trap when releasing the groundhog, in case it is more aggressive than it is scared.

Before buying and planting a live trap, however, be sure to read up on the local laws regarding trapping and relocating groundhogs.

Natural and electronic repellents

A second control measure has to do with repelling pests. Because groundhogs have a fine sense of smell, repellents generally bring successful results. There are 2 types that you can use:

  • liquid repellents, which you can apply on plants that groundhogs eat (e.g. alfafa, clover, different types of flowers, etc., making sure to focus on the stems and branches, seeing as these are what groundhogs most often nibble on) or on different surfaces that groundhogs inevitably touch (e.g. grass, bushes, shrubs, trees, woodpiles, etc.);
  • granular repellents, which you can distribute on the ground in order to create barriers around certain areas (e.g. flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, trees, pathways, buildings, even groundhog burrows, etc.).

Electronic repellents have also been proven useful, with groundhogs being frightened and eventually conditioned to stay away. There are a variety of such repellents to choose from (e.g. motion-activated sprinklers, motion-activated alarms, etc.) and they can be successfully used to protect virtually any territory. They are especially successful when used in combination with traditional repellents.
The most important thing to remember when applying repellents is to carefully follow the instructions, from start to finish. This is because even the best products can lose efficiency if not used correctly. Furthermore, you should be prepared to reapply these repellents following rain or snow.


A third control measure that can be used in the fight against groundhogs is fencing. The most important advantages that this has over repellents is that it only has to be built once and it generally helps to keep other large pests at bay, as well. In order to build a successful fence, you should:

  • ensure that it is around 1m tall;
  • ensure that it digs into the ground at least 30cm so that the groundhogs cannot dig underneath it; it is also recommended that you create an underground “L” shape with the fence, for the same reason;
  • use a strong wire with openings no larger than 7cm x 7cm;
  • add an outward angle at the top to make the fence more difficult to climb over; don’t forget that groundhogs are surprisingly good climbers!

Overall, it is important to note that, because groundhogs hibernate during the cold months, these methods are most useful if applied during the warm months. Experts claim that the best time to remove groundhogs is very early in the spring, before the mating season starts. This is because, once a female groundhog is pregnant, she will be very difficult to repel, and once she has younglings, she will be more aggressive and you will have more groundhogs to worry about.

As with any other pest, the best way of getting rid of groundhogs is by preventing them from building burrows onto your property in the first place. Methods of prevention can be found in our article about how to “Prevent infestations with groundhogs“. You will find there multiple preventive actions that can be taken, because a combination of methods needs to be applied, the same as with the usage of a combination of different repellents or deterring actions. This way, you will be able to prevent the groundhogs from installing their new home onto your property, by covering all the grounds that can be luring to them, such as food or shelter sources.

Got a question?

    1. In order to get rid of the groundhogs you can use traps. Please be sure to release them somewhere safe.

      Nexles -

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