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How to Catch a Groundhog ( Without A Fuss!)

How to Catch a Groundhog

Do you have a groundhog problem? It’s not uncommon to have groundhogs in your garden. These little critters love to dig through the ground and cause some damage on your perfectly trimmed garden. Also called woodchucks, it’s pretty easy to figure out if you need to set a groundhog trap in your yard.

Signs You Have a Groundhog

Signs You Have a Groundhog

Fresh Mounds

The most obvious sign would be freshly dug holes in your garden. Groundhogs often start their den beneath the porch where there’s some sort of protection against the elements. However, it won’t take long before they start expanding their territory and creating fresh tunnels underneath your backyard. Don’t confuse this with mole holes which are typically smaller. A groundhog’s burrow is typically 10 to 12 inches while moles are around 4 to 8 inches.

Feeding Time

Here’s why you need to make a distinction between moles and groundhogs: groundhogs are considered pests while moles usually aren’t. This is because moles eat garden pests while groundhogs munch on fruits and vegetables. They’re herbivores so if you garden vegetables in your yard, there’s a big chance that groundhogs will set up shop to be close to food.

Sound they Make

Groundhogs emit this high whistling sound whenever they feel like they’re in danger. Make sure to watch out for that particular sound.

What is the Best Bait to for a Groundhog Trap?

What is the Best Bait to for a Groundhog Trap

The best bait really depends on what the groundhog is stealing off your garden. If he’s taking most of your tomatoes, then use that as a bait. If you don’t have a garden however, your bait can be any kind of sweet fruit or vegetable. The best groundhog bait is typically the cantaloupe because it has a very strong scent that attracts groundhogs. You can also create a bait trail using a cantaloupe and then rubbing some of the fruit in the trap. This would help overcome any human scent that could be clinging in the trap. Wearing gloves while setting the trap also limits any scent that may attach onto the trap. Remember – groundhogs are very good with their nose.

If you don’t have any cantaloupe, you can just use strawberries, sweet corn, and peaches. You can also try string beans, peas, and lettuce if you have some on hand. They can eat as much as 1 pound of food in just one sitting, which means that they can quickly decimate a garden. On the plus side, these creatures prefer to hibernate in the winter so you won’t have any problem during the colder season.

Are Groundhogs Hard to Trap?

Are Groundhogs Hard to Trap

The good news is that groundhogs are solitary creatures. This means that if you have one in your garden – there’s a good chance he’s alone there. Of course, you might encounter a couple during mating season. Babies are also likely, but you can be sure that once the baby groundhog grows up, he’ll soon find his own burrow. It may or may not be within your property – so watch out! Despite the fact that they’re solitary however – catching them isn’t quick. They’re smart little guys and would instantly be suspicious of new things lying around in the garden – even if there’s food in it! This is why disguising the trap can go a long way in improving your chances of catching the little guy.

There are two types of trap products you can use to capture a groundhog. The first type is a single-door trap. Another one is a two-door trap and your choice really depends on where you will be putting the trap in your yard. We will discuss more of those later.

Now, the placement of the lure inside the trap is very important. If you do it wrong – the groundhog can easily avoid the trap and perhaps even get wiser in avoiding your setup. This is why it’s best to do it right the first time.

For a single-door trap, you want to put the bait on the other end of the trap, just behind the trigger plate. You want the groundhog to walk completely inside the trap before setting it off – therefore making sure that he doesn’t get to run away. What about a two-door trap? For this one, you want to put the trap in the middle of the cage, exactly on top of the trigger plate. A good way of doing this is by allowing the bait to hang on top of the plate so that once triggered, both doors snap shut, keeping the groundhog inside. Remember what we said about size? The trap should be 32 to 42 inches long so the groundhog can completely enter inside.

What's the Best Trap Placement for Groundhogs?

What's the Best Trap Placement for Groundhogs

You must trap a groundhog carefully – making sure that he doesn’t suspect a thing. Wear gloves and then carefully look through your property. A groundhog will rarely move far from its burrow so make sure the trap is located within a 10 feet radius from its house. Look for an area in your yard where groundhog damage is obvious – you can place your trap there. You can also look for a pathway where the groundhog obviously passes through frequently. Finally, check out where most food leftovers are left behind – chances are this is where your groundhog likes to eat his meals.

Any of those locations would be a good trap placement. For frequently visited places, you’d want to set up a one-door trap. If you’re putting it somewhere the groundhog passes through often. a two-door trap would be perfect. You don’t want to block his passage and force him to change his habits! Studies show that animals are also more confident about traps that they can see through. Of course, don’t forget that two traps means there’s a higher catch rate for you.

Note that disguising your trap is every bit as important as where you place it. You have to camouflage it buy putting dried leaves and sticks around the trap. You might want to dig a little bit so the trap isn’t elevated off the ground – making it easier to hide.

How Do you Lure Out a Groundhog?

How Do you Lure Out a Groundhog

How to catch a groundhog if he won’t go near the trap? Of course, not all groundhogs immediately “discover” your trap after setting it up. You need to lead him there – lure him to the prize by carefully creating a scent that he can follow. Wear gloves when you do this.

  • Start by locating the groundhog burrow. This is the first spot where you should put a piece of the bait. Perhaps a 2-inch cantaloupe cube would do.
  • Put your second lure around 3 feet away from the first lure.
  • Repeat this until you get to your trap. Try to rub a bit of the food around the trap before putting a nice chunk inside.
  • Remember that the trap itself should be properly set up. A good technique is to wet the trap and roll it around in dirt first. This gives it a “worn out” look that helps avoid suspicion from the groundhogs. Once set up, you can disguise it with some leaves and twigs.
  • Make sure the trap is placed on level ground. You don’t want it moving around as this can compromise sensitivity of the trigger and may close down too quickly.

Note that groundhogs can get very anxious when they’re trapped for long periods of time. You want to check on the trap every few hours or so just to make sure that you don’t leave him there long enough to get violent. The last thing you want is an angry woodchuck on your hands.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can catch one in a matter of hours. Not even professional pest control services can do that. It can take days or even a week to catch the groundhog. Be patient but never let the groundhog stay in the trap for long periods of time once you actually catch it!

Setting Up the Pest Control Trap

Setting Up the Pest Control Trap

Let’s say you’ve already decided on the lure and even the location of the trap. The question is – how do you set it up? Each trap is different so make sure to understand exactly how it works. Read the instructions if necessary! You might want to test it out first – trigger the plate multiple times until you have good control on how it works. Don’t do it with your hands of course – use a stick or some other elongated device for the trigger.

To increase your odds of catching the groundhog, try buying several pest control products. Set it up in different parts of your garden.

Some people go so far as to set up a camera facing the trap so they can check it as often as needed. While you don’t have to go that far, just set up an alarm so that you can check on the trap every few hours or so.

Retrieving Your Catch

Retrieving Your Catch

Finally, you managed to trap a groundhog! What now? Well, the next best step is to relocate the animal so that it can live in peace – while also leaving YOU in peace to enjoy your own garden. Note though that you might want to first check the regulations in your city before doing anything with your caught groundhog! Some cities allow you to trap groundhogs all year – like an open season approach. Others however, require you to go through some processes before catching one.

Once have the groundhog inside the trap, approach it with caution. Wear hand protection and hold the trap away from you. Place the groundhog somewhere safe as you consider how to permanently remove the little guy from your home. To prevent him from getting anxious, grab a rag and place it on top of trap. This would help him relax a little as you decide what to do with the little guy.

Relocation is often the most humane option after you catch a groundhog. The problem here is – where would you put the little guy? Placing him too far from his food source can actually be worse and might cause the animal to die. That being said, you want to give him the best chances of survival. How do you do this?

The best way is to contact professionals to get rid of the groundhog. While you may have caught the animal, others can step in and get rid of it for you through city-approved methods. Obviously, this would cost you less than just simply letting the professionals take over from the beginning. If your city allows you to relocate without professional help, then make sure you do it around 5 miles away from your property.

One the groundhog is gone from your property – it’s time to remove the things that probably attracted him in the first place. Maybe you have some plants there that you don’t need but the groundhog loves? Take them out of your garden and there will be less chances of another groundhog creating a burrow in your house. Of course, if you’re really an avid gardener – then be prepared for ore groundhogs turning your garden into their burrow. Just be ready with more traps and more humane ways of getting rid of the groundhog. As you get used to the process, it becomes easier – you might even consider it fun!

Getting Professional Pest Control Help

Getting Professional Pest Control Help

Of course, it’s always possible to seek professional help to catch a groundhog. Groundhog removal services can go a long way in making sure you’re getting results without much of the work. The great thing about the professionals is that they have access to good quality pest control products that can improve their chances of catching the groundhog with relative ease.

Final Word

What now? Well, keep in mind that more groundhogs can come into your home and set up shop there. If this happens again, just repeat the steps already mentioned here! Groundhogs, despite how annoying they can be – do not really pose a huge threat in your life.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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