Groundhogs are the largest members of the squirrel family and have become something of a cultural icon. Still, they can be quite a nuisance if they get into your garden or yard. The following 5 interesting facts about groundhogs and suggestions on how to get rid of them will help you protect your property from these furry invaders.
1 – Groundhogs Hibernate During Winter
Unlike other small rodents in the squirrel family, groundhogs sleep through winter in underground burrows from the first winter frost and through February. In preparation for those long, sleepy months, groundhogs gorge themselves during summer and early fall. While hibernating, a groundhog’s body temperature lowers substantially and they survive by consuming their own body fat.
2 – Groundhogs Are Natural Diggers
A single adult groundhog can dig a burrow nearly 40 feet long while displacing up to 700 pounds of soil. Their burrows can be quite intricate, usually including more than one entrance so that they can escape if a predator is lying in wait outside.
3 – Groundhogs Can Climb And Swim Too
Even though they are most adept at digging, groundhogs can also climb trees quickly and swim quite well when they need to, usually to escape a predator. They are not the fastest runners, however, especially at the end of summer when at their pre-hibernation weight.
4 – Groundhogs Prefer Open Spaces Near Woodlands
If your property lies on the lovely line between the woods and an open field, you are likely to have a groundhog problem. These large rodents prefer places where they have access to fresh water, grasses, tree bark, and fruits.
5 – Groundhogs Go By Several Names
Groundhogs are also referred to as woodchucks, land-beavers, and whistle-pigs. Why?
Woodchuck: Though groundhogs do chew on wood, they are not so great at actually moving it. Therefore, this name is not very accurate.
Land-Beaver: Again, this name is given because groundhogs tend to chew on wood much like their aquatic relative, the beaver. Still, they do not build dams or down trees to the extent that beavers do.
Whistle-Pig: Groundhogs warn each other of danger by making a high pitched whistle sound that has earned them this interesting name.
Getting Rid of Groundhogs
Knowing more about groundhog behavior can help you get rid of groundhogs from your yard. The best methods are to:
Frighten Them: Groundhogs are naturally timid and will think twice about entering your garden if you install motion detector lights and moving decorations such as pinwheels.
Trap Them: Placing a live animal trap at the entrances to groundhog burrows can be effective, but remember that these smart animals may have built several exits to their underground homes.
Repel Them: Natural repellents such as Shake-Away Groundhog Repellent scare groundhogs away using the urine scent of their predators. Shake-Away does not contain any harmful chemicals and is safe for kids and pets. Just sprinkle the granules around your yard and near groundhog burrows to scare these pests off your property.