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Groundhog eating trash.
Groundhog eating trash.

Many times homeowners think they see the same groundhog living in their yard for years.

Suddenly the homeowner is shocked, and asks why has that same groundhog become so much more brazen this year?

Or they can’t believe it, that same groundhog had babies this year!

Well, the homeowner will also be surprised to learn that while all groundhogs do in fact look the same, they are NOT the same groundhog year after year.

As it turns out, groundhogs are on the bottom of the food chain and they have a very short life span. The average lifetime of a groundhog is only one and a half years. So when you have groundhogs living in your yard, you have to remember that it’s NOT that one groundhog year after year, as many homeowners tend to say. Plus getting rid of that one groundhog will not solve your problem. The groundhog is an animal that hibernates through the winter.

​Depending on the weather, they will come out of hibernation around the middle of March. Roughly 35% percent of groundhogs that go into hibernation does not make it through winter.

Groundhogs are herbivores or plant eaters and are not generally aggressive animals. However, they will defend themselves if a human gets between them and their home.

Groundhogs protect themselves by running down into their burrows. If that hole is blocked by a predator or unknowing person, the groundhog will produce a nasty bite if they feel that is what’s necessary. Homeowners should also be wary of mother groundhogs. Like a good mother, a mother groundhog will do whatever she needs to do to protect her babies. Litters of 2-9 babies are born around the end of March or early April, although they will not venture out of the den for up to 6 weeks.

On average, one groundhog will excavate approximately 700 pounds of dirt in the creation of one den, and a single groundhog may have 4 or 5 dens spread over their territory! Over time and left to their own doing, groundhogs will cause tremendous damage to yards and household structures.

They live under sheds, decks and their support columns, freestanding garages, sidewalks, slabs such as those that hold air conditioning units, and along fence lines. They will undermine these structures with their continuous burrowing and excavation of dirt.

There was this one time at Fischer Wildlife Control & Repairs we had one instance of a groundhog burrowing up against the foundation of a house leaving such a bad pitch that when it rained, water would enter the groundhog’s hole and leak down the basement walls!

In the wintertime when groundhogs are inactive, their dens are attractive to other ground-dwellers, such as skunks. It is common for a skunk to enter a groundhog hole and make side-tunnels, therefore causing a yard to have a dual occupancy of both groundhogs and skunks.

Tunnels under grass can cause injury to both humans and animals such as horses and cattle. Unfortunate injuries to animals often result in the need to end their lives. Public areas such as college campuses and school fields run the risk of entering a litigious situation if someone is injured due to poor ground upkeep.

There are two ways to handle a groundhog problem

Damage done by ground dwellers.
Damage done by ground dwellers.

The first to simply capture (trap and remove) the nuisance groundhogs that are living under your structure. However, with a trapping/removal-only program we will only provide a 3-day warranty against other animals getting in because, as we mentioned before, a quiet groundhog den is an attractive place for occupancy by many other animals including new groundhogs.

We believe that setting traps alone is not a sufficient solution. In fact, it is a waste of your money! You will not stop groundhogs from making your yard or garden their home. As you get rid of one groundhog, another will just move in! Similarly, if you have a groundhog tunneling in your backyard that lives under your neighbor’s shed, having us come out to capture that animal is, that’s right, a waste of your money. As long as there is a den under the neighbor’s shed and direct access to that den, another animal will come along to inhabit it.

Which leads us to the second, and infinitely more effective, way to get rid of groundhogs living under your deck or shed. An exclusion on that structure, in conjunction with a trapping and removal program, will prevent future animals from gaining access.

In an exclusion, a trench is dug around the structure below the ground, then a wire is attached to the bottom of the structure and led down into the ground in an L fashion so that the wire looks like a book laying on its side. The trench is then back-filled, leaving your structure with a permanent barrier to keep groundhogs, skunks, and other ground-dwelling animals out for good! In the case of a proper exclusion, we offer our full 1-year written warranty against new animals gaining access under the structure.

Click here to see how we create an exclusion of your structure to keep out nuisance animals!

Click here to check out our completed exclusion jobs.