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Trapping Groundhogs

A Helpful Guide To Trapping Groundhogs

Most of these rodents are harmless creatures but when they are invading your property and stealing your vegetables from your garden, trapping groundhogs becomes a priority.  While you may just associate groundhogs with the animal that looks to see his shadow to let the world know when spring will be arriving, they are capable of a lot more than simply digging these under ground homes that they come from.  In fact, groundhogs are quite good at climbing trees and swimming as well.

These talented little critters are a gardener’s worse nightmare.  They are notorious feeders with a taste for root vegetables, legumes and their favorite is alfalfa.  If you are looking for ways of trapping groundhogs, it is helpful if you get to know them a little better first.

Life Cycle

Groundhogs are actually quite brilliant, creating an extensive tunnel network that is made up of about 30 feet of chambers for hibernating and food.  Also, they always have a minimum of two mounds; one is to access the tunnel casually while the other is for emergency escapes.  Groundhogs use their underground home just like a human would to eat, mate, hide and sleep.

Depending on the climate, hibernation period begins in the fall which is when the need for trapping groundhogs seems to soar because they start gathering all the food that they can to prepare for their nice long sleep.  Once spring comes along, they emerge with around four young ones and the whole cycle begins again.


The best way to avoid groundhog trapping is to keep them off your property in the first place.  Fencing is a reliable strategy to keep the animals out of your vegetable garden.  Anywhere from two to three feet of mesh wire fencing or chicken wire should be all that you need as long as you bury it at least one foot below the surface.  Keep in mind that these are creatures that can dig like it’s nobody’s business so the deeper that you can sink this wire in the ground, the better!

Live Traps

The most humane way of trapping groundhogs without hurting them is by using live traps.  Be warned, this is not an easy process.  It is recommended that you should set up the trap so that the door does not shut for a couple of days.  This allows them to get use to having a free meal so that they won’t be so scared to enter the cage completely.  This way, there is no risk of catching a tail or any other body part in the door.

After they are coming and going, set the trap door and when you catch it, cover the cage with a cloth to transport the animals to a wooded, shady area.  Once you find an appropriate area, do not force the groundhog out of the cage.  Give it a few minutes to exit on his own.  After all, he has been through a traumatic event.

Trapping Tips

  • Always clean your trap with unscented dish soap and wear rubber gloves when doing so.  This will ensure that you don’t leave your scent lingering behind.  Groundhogs have sensitive noses and are very skeptical of anything smelling like a human.
  • Steady your trap on a flat surface to keep it from shaking.  You may even need to add a few weights.  Groundhogs are heavy, weighing about 10 pounds so if the trap is not steady and starts to shake as soon as the animal begins to step on it, the door will probably shut before it is able to get its whole body inside.  Either that or the groundhog won’t trust it enough to enter the trap because it is unstable.
  • Use whatever food the animal is stealing from your garden as bait.  Peas, beans and fresh alfalfa seem to be the most popular choice to use for trapping groundhogs.
  • Check your traps regularly!  The whole point of using this humane method is to move the animal, not harm it.  If you leave it without food and water it can start to death.  Not to mention, sometimes pets wander into these traps as well.  Always clean the trap after every use.

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