Of all the wildlife that could bother you and your home, groundhogs are perhaps the… strangest. They’re definitely a problem (they’re tearing up your yard!), and they definitely seem like they’re doing something… but what? Why are groundhogs digging under your yard all year? What are they even doing down there?!
If you ever want to stop groundhogs, you have to know what you’re stopping them from doing! Luckily, that’s not as difficult to figure out as you might think–especially since you have our help. Here’s everything you should know about the groundhogs burrowing beneath your yard, including how to kick them out.
What are Groundhogs?
Groundhogs (Marmota monax), also known as woodchucks, are a species of large ground squirrels called marmots. Groundhogs are the largest marmots, measuring 17 to 24 inches long and weighing up to 13 pounds. They also have tails that measure up to an additional 6 inches long. Groundhogs have plump, chunky bodies covered in dense tan, reddish-brown, or grey-brown fur. Adult groundhogs have four prominent, chisel-like incisors that frequently stick out of their mouths, giving groundhogs a distinct “overbite.”
Aside from one famous groundhog’s powers of weather prognostication, groundhogs are most well-known for their digging. Groundhogs dig using by scooping dirt with their specialized, shovel-like claws. They’re extremely good at digging, too: a single groundhog can move up to 700 pounds of dirt when burrowing. Groundhog burrows are large and elaborate, measuring up to 66 feet long and containing multiple chambers, exits, and levels. Unlike other marmots, groundhogs are solitary creatures. They live alone in their burrows and only seek each other out to mate. Groundhogs spend the majority of their lives inside their burrows.
What do Groundhogs want?
Groundhogs are herbivores and feed on a wide variety of plant matter, including vegetables, weeds, flowers, and grasses. They’re a particular problem for farmers because they often feed on crops such as soybeans and peas. Groundhogs eat by leaving their burrows and feeding on any plant life nearby. They rarely venture far from their burrow entrances, though they may make new entrances to find new food sources. Unlike squirrels, groundhogs don’t stash extra food in their burrows.
Groundhog’s giant incisors never stop growing. In order to keep their teeth healthy and sharp, hogs have to gnaw on things. Groundhogs usually gnaw on old wood, such as tree stumps, but they may also chew on damaged structural wood. Unsurprisingly, groundhogs are very shy. They tend to emerge from their burrows to feed and gnaw only in the early morning or at night. They like to build their burrows in areas with natural cover, so they can remain unnoticed when feeding.
Why are Groundhogs in my yard?
If groundhogs burrow near you, then they must be getting what they want from your yard. Groundhogs tend to burrow near especially plentiful food sources, such as farms and gardens. They love to dig their way beneath fences and barriers so they can chow down on your flowers and vegetables. If you maintain a garden far from the perimeter of your home, groundhogs may exploit it for easy food. The more secluded and removed the garden, the better.
Groundhogs also require places to clean and sharpen their teeth. They usually use old, rotting, or damaged wooden structures to accomplish this. Groundhogs find and build burrow entrances near tree stumps or other isolated wooden structures. Again, they like to stay hidden whenever they leave their burrow, so the more covered the area the better. In fact, groundhogs even prefer to build their burrows in covered areas. The more cluttered your yard, the more comfortable groundhogs will feel living there.
How can I keep groundhogs away from my yard?
First, look for burrow entrances in your yard. Groundhogs build multiple entrances out of their burrows, so they can access different food sources easily. These entrances are usually in flat, well-drained soil near a food source like a garden. Use a shovel to fill in these burrows as you find them. Next, figure out why the groundhog decided to surface here. Consider removing all vegetation and sources of cover from the area around the entrance.
Although groundhogs can burrow beneath conventional fencing, there are barriers they can’t get by so easily. If you have a garden, consider building a chicken or welded wire fence around it. Extend the wire mesh out for about a foot beneath the ground in a curving L-shape. You could also extend the mesh on the ground around your garden to block emerging groundhogs. Finally, you should try to remove as much natural cover from your yard as possible. The more open the area, the harder it’ll be for groundhogs to traverse it comfortably.
Groundhogs definitely have some strange habits, but they’re not really that tough to figure out. They just want to eat, sleep, and be left alone like everybody else. It’s easy to sympathize, really, but that doesn’t mean you should let them do it in your yard.
If you have a groundhog problem, call the experts at Varment Guard right away. We use exclusion and trapping techniques to prevent remove groundhogs safely and humanely. Together, we can keep your yard safe.BACK TO BLOG