Tips for Repelling Groundhogs
The groundhog goes by many names. It is also known as the woodchuck, which comes from European settlers mispronouncing the Algonquin name for the animal wuchak and has nothing to do with chucking wood. Other names for the groundhog include “whistle pig,” “land beaver,” and “red monk.” But if you have a groundhog destroying your garden or damaging your foundations, the groundhog has another name: trouble.
A Little Bit About Groundhogs
The largest of the ground squirrel family, groundhogs can grow upwards of 30 pounds. They are capable climbers and proficient diggers, living most of their lives underground. As diurnal creatures, groundhogs come out of their burrows during the day to forage for the plants that make up their diet. So, if you have a groundhog making a meal out of your garden, you might be able to look out your window and catch it in the act.
Highly territorial, groundhogs often live solitary lives, coming together mainly to mate and raise young. Young groundhogs leave their mothers to dig burrows of their own at 3-months old. This means that if you find signs of groundhog activity on your property, there is a good chance you have only one — and one is more than enough, considering their large size and appetite.
Hiding from its shadow is not actually a behavior the groundhog performs in the wild. This bit of folklore comes from an early Germanic tradition saying that if the weather is clear and bright enough on the holiday of Candlemas (February 2) that a badger can see its shadow, this will foretell 6 more weeks of winter. When German settlers brought this tradition to America, they attributed this power of prognostication to the groundhog instead.
What Good Are Groundhogs?
The groundhog’s extensive digging benefits both other animals and the soil itself. When a groundhog moves away from a burrow, it leaves a cozy home for other animals such as rabbits, opossums, and foxes. Also, their burrowing will both aerate and mix the subsoil, improving soil quality for plants and beneficial microorganisms that live there.
Problems Caused by Groundhogs
After snacking on dandelions, mulberries, and clover in the wild, groundhogs see your garden a being full of delicious plants for them to eat – particularly fruits and vegetables. They will quickly claim your harvest for themselves.
Also, since they have the same ever-growing sharp front teeth of other rodents, groundhogs will gnaw all sorts of things they find outside, including garden hoses and exposed cables. There have been cases of groundhogs gnawing on car wiring, which requires expensive repairs.
Their digging can also be highly destructive, weakening foundations. In many cases, groundhogs will center their burrow under an outdoor shed, and the many tunnels they dig around its sides can cause it to sink. Burrowing has also damaged farm equipment that fell when the earth underneath it gave way. Groundhogs have also caused some grizzly damage in cemeteries.
How to Control Groundhogs
Groundhogs form a vital part of the natural environment, and many states have strong laws as to which control methods are acceptable. Be sure to check your local laws regarding groundhog control.
To keep groundhogs out of your garden, fencing will have to accommodate both the groundhog’s digging and climbing. It should stand at least 5-feet tall above ground, down to 3-feet deep below. Another tactic is to bend the fence in an L-shape at ground level, extending 2 feet from the garden.
Trapping and Shooting
Since they are typically solitary animals, trapping groundhogs can be very effective. You should only have to worry about one animal at a time. The trap must be scrubbed thoroughly with scent-free soap to remove any human smell and baited with tasty fruits and vegetables.
Once you have the groundhog trapped, what do you do with it? Unfortunately, relocating more than 100 yards away may not be legal in your state. But, if you can take the time to fill in its burrow with gravel, you may encourage it to go looking elsewhere after its release.
In some states, euthanizing a groundhog by gunshot is considered a humane control method. There are even recipes for cooking and eating groundhog, but don’t expect to get a large meal out of them, and you will want to be careful how you remove their scent glands.
Attack Their Burrows
Placing ammonia-soaked rags at the entry to a groundhog’s burrow is sometimes attempted for groundhog control. There are also commercially available fumigation bombs that fill their burrow with deadly carbon monoxide gas. These methods can be extremely harmful both to you and your soil.
If you wish to avoid these toxic chemicals, you may instead feel like flushing the groundhog out of its burrow with water. However, soaking the earth this way may weaken the structure of the burrow and further damage already compromised building foundations.
Mark Your Territory
Since groundhogs are sensitive to the scent of other animals, some homeowners have sought to repel them with bags of hair — cat, dog, or human — which they then hang around their garden. Another method is to collect urine and then splash that around the area you want to protect, but you may find that process distasteful.
I Must Garden Groundhog Repellent
Compared with other costly, complicated, destructive, and unpleasant methods of groundhog control, you can see why so many homeowners turn to I Must Garden Groundhog Repellent. Its combination of botanical oils and organic compounds tells the groundhog that your plants are not something it would want to eat.
To start, cover plants with a fine mist until run-off, from the base up to 24-inches high, and allow to dry at least an hour before rain or watering. Then, reapply about every 2-4 weeks and touch up new growth as needed. To reduce the risk of burning your plants, apply in the morning or evening, not in direct sunlight or during the hottest time of day.
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