Groundhog Outside of Hole

Groundhog Removal Methods – What Really Works

Have some groundhogs in your yard? Want to get rid of them?

Have you searched online and found various groundhog removal methods and wonder which one really works? Or do they all work?

In this article, I will discuss some of the ideas we found online, how we implemented them – most of them were tried – and then make the determination as to whether they worked or not.

This is a Tremendous Trial which has been in the works for about 20 years now. So, read on to find out what groundhog removal methods really work, which ones – not so much, and which ones don’t work at all.

Baby groundhogs cautiously roaming outside their den.
A burrowing female groundhog will give birth to litters of from 3 to up to 10 baby groundhog cubs each year. This year, our female groundhog gave birth to at least 5 babies – 3 of them shown here roaming around just outside their hole.

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Build a Fence Underground

As you know, groundhogs dig. They dig burrows or dens underground so a normal fence is no match for a groundhog.

A groundhog will dig a hole under just about any type of fence with ease. The trick is to bury your fencing underground about 2 feet.

In my case, we installed some chicken wire on the bottoms of our wire chain link fence burying it about 2 feet.

Inexpensive Lightweight Chicken Wire Installed Above Ground
Is this not the cutest groundhog you have ever seen? Well, no, of course this is not a groundhog but an adorable dog. Apparently lightweight and inexpensive chicken wire is strong enough to keep even a dog – larger than a groundhog – penned in.

As most websites will tell you, a fence or chicken wire buried 2 feet in the ground will deter groundhogs. Deter may be the key word in that sentence.

It may deter them but, it will not stop them.

Groundhogs will easily dig near and under fences.
You have to look closely at this groundhog photo to see the chicken wire fencing attached to our existing chain link fence – but it is there. Our groundhog has no problem digging holes on both sides of the fence – even with the addition of the chicken wire in the ground and below the existing fence.

Now to be fair to this method, our chicken wire was probably not exactly 2 feet in the ground – maybe more like 1 – 1.5 feet. So, perhaps, 2 feet would do the trick. However, based on a groundhogs capabilities, I feel like it would not be much of a deterrent, even at 2 feet deep.

Ultimately, this tremendous trial is a no-go. With the amount of work to install the fencing underground so deep, it may well not be worth it.

If you really want to protect your garden, you may want to do this. However, be cognizant of the resources required – fencing costs and lots and lots of digging – and you may still have groundhogs getting in.


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Trapping

As with any wild animal, trapping is always an option for removal.

There are a few things to consider if you want to try and trap a groundhog for removal.

  • You need to have access to or buy a trap.
  • You need to be aware of your local regulations on any wildlife removal in your area. It could be that you are not allowed to kill them, once you capture them. It could be that you must release them in a certain area – or cannot release them in an particular area.
  • You need to be able to deal with wild animal in a cage and be ready to transport it, and release it in a safe manner. Not everyone is up for this task – including me 🙂

Having said that, this is not a method of groundhog removal that we tried. We know that there are so many groundhogs around our area that even releasing them will not prevent them from coming back to our yard.

And so, it would be a lot of effort for nothing.

If your groundhog is a one-off and you don’t often have them in your yard, then this method may be suitable for you. Just be ready for the ‘trapped animal in a cage’ ferocity while you transport it to another location. Or, you can – and probably should – hire someone to do this for you.

Handle this Groundhog trap with gloves and great care.
Note the gloves on the handler of this trapped groundhog in a 1 door large trap. Yes, groundhogs are wild animals and need to be treated as such. Do not attempt to capture and trap a groundhog if you are at all nervous and / or your knowledge of wild animals and dealing with them is limited. This is part of the reason we did not attempt this method – even though I am confident it would work.

Rating this Tremendous Trial, for an infrequent groundhog visitor, this method gets a thumbs-up.

But, remember, you will most likely want to hire someone – or buy your own cage – so, either way, the cost is much more significant than some of the other methods.


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Dog, Cat or Human Urine

As with most wildlife, they are very sensitive to the scents of other animals. These scents include the urine of other species.

If you have a dog or a cat, you can try to have them urinate near the hole, or preferably, in the hole.

Now, I hesitated to add the idea of using human urine – mostly because it is not exactly possible for most backyards. If you have a large backyard with lots of privacy, you can have your male friends do their business in the hole.

In our yard, which has a lot of forest around it, this is possible – without any neighbors freaking out and calling the police for indecent exposure. (On an environmental note, it also saves water from toilet flushing….)

Groundhog hole beside day lilies.
One of our groundhog holes is far away from our sitting area and near a forest so it is a private spot for our male visitors to try hitting the hole.

Now onto whether it works or not.

As we do not have a dog or cat that goes outside, we could not test the pet urine method. We do have males in the house and a few male friends, so we did test that method.

I am sorry to say that this Tremendous Trial is a big failure.

After many a party night in the backyard with the guys trying to help us out…it did not work at all. On the brighter side, as I mentioned above, we did save some water though 🙂


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Used Cat Litter

If you have a cat, you surely have cat litter. We used to have a cat and attempted – numerous times – to dump some of the used litter into the various groundhog holes.

Cats and kittens will provide plenty of used kitty litter to put down groundhog holes.
Kitty litter? No, I am not suggesting putting these kittens down the hole :-).
This adorable litter of kittens is not to be mistaken for kitten litter. Although, this litter of kittens should provide you with sufficient used kitty litter for throwing down the groundhog hole.

This, like the urine solution, did absolutely nothing. I don’t think there was any deterrent whatsoever. Perhaps it made them use or find another hole but, I am not even sure of that.

And even the hole we dumped the litter into was definitely used again – whether it was that day or not, I am not sure – but, it was definitely in use again shortly after. So, do they just bury it? I don’t know but – it did not work.

Tremendous Trial rating for this used cat litter solution – thumbs down for getting rid of groundhogs.

As for getting rid of your kitty litter, why not do this anyway – even if Mr. Groundhog doesn’t mind. Instead of throwing it out with your municipal garbage, dump it in their hole, fill it with dirt and let it compost.


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Smoke Bombs

You can buy these gas cartridges / smoke bombs at your local hardware store. They are fairly easy to use. Here are a few things you need to consider.

Smoke bombs for groundhog removal
These smoke bombs are the exact ones we tried. There are other products on the market so I am not sure if they are any better or not.
  • You need to cover and fill ALL of the burrow holes besides the one you intend to drop the cartridge into.
  • Be sure you have some dirt or rocks and a shovel to immediately fill the hole into which you have dropped the cartridge.
  • Very importantly, be sure you are legally allowed to use these smoke bombs in your local area. Some of these are banned in certain areas and states of the country.

Obvious – maybe…but, we tried this technique and we believe that we forgot to and/or did not locate one of the many holes in their burrow system – because they escaped – and / or returned.

As for my Tremendous Trial rating, I will hold off on ranking this method for now, as I do believe it would work. Next time, we need to be more meticulous in finding all of the many groundhog holes. And that time is coming soon, so stay tuned.


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Ammonia

I am not a fan of ammonia in any form so…we did not nor will we try to use this method to remove our groundhogs.

I do not want to handle or add ammonia to my ground. Because we live on well water, I don’t want any chemicals going into my ground water.

Some people say it works, though. Unfortunately, if you want to try this, you are on your own.


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Spices and Herbs – Garlic and Peppers

I have found many solutions for small rodents and pests which utilize spices and herbs.

For example, one website stated that mice do not like peppermint. After having left many dots of peppermint essential oil in the area where mice like to inhabit, we still find mice there. So…not sure what we are doing wrong or is it just that this does not work.

We have also tried some pepper – cayenne pepper in particular – spread around the groundhog holes – with little to no effect.

Garlic as a deterrent for groundhogs
Garlic is an inexpensive and easy way to try to deter groundhogs – if, of course, your groundhogs do not like garlic.
Dried chili peppers can be used to try to deter groundhogs.
Dried spicy red chili peppers can be crushed and mushed into red chili flakes to be spread around plants which you don’t want bothered by groundhogs.

As for garlic, I would argue that this method of groundhog removal is completely worthless. I say this because we have had garlic plants planted within feet of their hole systems. So, needless to say, I can’t say that garlic would deter any groundhog – unless, of course, we just happen to have garlic loving groundhogs 🙂

Tremendous Trial rating for this groundhog removal method is another thumbs down.


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Flood the Den

If you have water and a long hose, you can try to flood the groundhogs out of their burrow.

After a small incident in my backyard – the baby groundhogs had eaten all of my petunias – I suppose you could say, I lashed out in a fit of flower rage and decided to plug the house in the hole and let it run.

After about 3 hours of running the hose, still nothing.

This made me realize just how large their system of burrows is under there. It did not seem to make one iota of difference. Not only did I not see them leave the hole, they were definitely there the next day.

So unless your groundhog burrow is relatively new – and perhaps not as large as my groundhog resort – save the water and water your plants instead.

Frustrated Women with Garden Hose
Save your water for your garden vegetables and flowers. Just avoid the frustration of even trying to flood out your groundhog. If their system is large, this attempt to remove them will not work. As this frustrated groundhog removal attempt lady is doing, sitting on your hose will be just as effective.

My Tremendous Trial rating for this groundhog removal method is a big thumbs down. And while I like this more natural way to dislodge the groundhog, it did not work for us.


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Vibration and Noise Makers

After having tried many of these techniques already, we thought…ok…what next?

Is there another way of getting rid or deterring these groundhogs from finding our backyard too appealing?

And then we stumbled onto these solar powered sonic noise and vibration makers. The noise and vibrations created are intended to freak out / scare any small animal or rodent and deter them from coming around that area.

Solar powered noise and vibration rodent repeller
Solar powered sonic rodent repellers installed in yard

They are not overly expensive and they are readily available at most hardware stores.

Our experience having installed a few of these solar powered sound and vibration units was not and is not successful – at all.

We placed the repellers about 1 foot beside their entry holes – with no effect whatsoever. We have literally seen the groundhogs walking right beside these repellers. Apparently, the groundhogs are not repelled.

Solar powered rodent repeller installed close to groundhog hole.
Just one of the groundhogs who appears to be fully unaffected by the pest and rodent repellent. Now perhaps we needed to install these lower into the ground. However, we have a lot of rocks making that type of installation more difficult.

And so, I would suggest that these gadgets are not repellers, despite their namesake. I even saw one of my groundhogs actually trying to climb this noise and vibration repeller. That is almost an encourager versus what is supposed to be a deterrent.

Yet another Tremendous Trials thumbs down for this groundhog removal method – unfortunately.


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Get a Fox – or a Dog

An odd thing happened on the way to my home office today.

As I walked across my deck, there was, literally, a fox battling a groundhog in my backyard. I have not seen a fox in my yard for some time but, my hubby thought he saw one a few weeks ago – doing a similar thing except we think that was only a chase and not a capture.

Today, after the battle, we have one less groundhog – without having to do anything.

If you don’t want to see a ‘sleepy’ groundhog, then you may want to look away. This literally happened in my backyard about 30-50 feet away from me.

I should note too that this clever red fox took out the momma groundhog versus the numerous cubs we have – and she was not small. This just goes to show you how much of a strong predator a small red fox can be.

Based on the small size of a fox, you can surmise that most large dogs would also be a challenge for any groundhog.

Red Fox panting just after a groundhog kill.
I am amazed at how strong this little fox is. He/she was able to take down this large, full grown groundhog. Now, I believe it was a hard fought battle, but this red fox won.

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Oh, the Clever Irony

I have to mention that this incident of fox versus groundhog in my backyard is truly ironic, and I will tell you why.

Just the day before writing this article, I had installed our sonic and vibration repellers and found that they were completely ineffective. When I saw our groundhogs basically climbing on them – rendering them useless and only producing some annoying sounds for us – I told myself, I am going to write about methods of groundhog removal which have been tried and tested, and whether they work or not.

The next day, this wildlife scene happened in my backyard – before I had even started to write the article. It was then that I realized that a fox or predator of some kind is really the ultimate way to rid yourself of groundhogs. Oh, the irony.


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Ok, Get a Dog instead of a Fox

Now we all don’t necessarily want or can have a fox in our backyards. However, after trying all of these other methods, this one seems to be the most efficient and effective.

Now to be honest, most people can’t just get themselves a fox. However, you can get a dog.

A dog, I do believe, would be a huge deterrent for groundhogs. I only say ‘I believe’ because I have never had a dog so, I cannot guarantee that having a dog will help you remove your groundhog problem.

It does make sense, though, that a dog would sufficiently harass groundhogs that they will probably not find your yard a nice play to stay – and most likely, just move on.

Groundhog Carcass Issues

The problem with a dog is that they may actually kill the groundhog – which in and of itself, is what you are looking for – getting rid of your groundhogs. However, as with some cats, they may just bring the carcass with them to your back door. A fox will not!

So, my Tremendous Trial rating for foxes – a big thumbs up – really the only groundhog removal method which truly works. Without a fox, a domestic dog will most likely scare most groundhogs away too.


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Best Dog Breeds for Removing Groundhogs

I am no dog expert but, after reading about the best breeds for getting rid of groundhogs, the most popular dog breed seems to be the terrier group. They have been bred to hunt rodents, and their smaller size means they will actually chase a groundhog down into their burrow – cornering them and making them afraid to come out.

Jack Russel Terrier is the perfect dog to get rid of groundhogs
Despite this sweet and lovable face, Jack Russell terriers are extremely determined and somewhat ferocious when it comes to doing their job – being a terrier.

Be wary though, that this method may also involve some human interaction once the dog has cornered the groundhog in the hole. Many people then dig around the hole to locate the groundhog and shoot it – not my thing – and illegal where I live, so this is not an option.

I personally like the simpler idea of having a dog which scares the groundhogs sufficiently that they will be chased into their dens, and because of the continued presence of the dog, will be too afraid to come back out. This will then force them to leave the burrow, for a safer living space.

As an example, I had my sister visit one time with her 2 lovely Bouvier des Flandres dogs. They are not necessarily rodent hunters by nature but, they did seem to want to find the groundhogs and dig them out of their holes. I am sure that if I owned these 2 dogs, these groundhogs would be terrified to exit their den and my groundhog problem would be solved.


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Groundhog Removal Methods – Which is Best?

We have not tried all of the methods found on the internet to rid ourselves of our groundhog friends. However, based on the techniques tried so far, the best – by far – has to be the fox (or other predator).

A fox will do the dirty deed of killing the groundhog (something I am not terribly interested in doing myself), and removing it completely – and it is all natural.

Now I realize that getting a fox is easier said than done – and if you have small pets yourself – you will not like this solution. And to be honest, we did not search around and get ourselves a fox. He just appeared one day.

So, understandably, getting a fox is not feasible for everyone – that is obvious.

For the next best thing, my suggestion for removing groundhogs from your property is, get a dog.


A big p.s. on this post: We have tried many of these methods, and have never had a dog. Hence, we have not had much success in getting rid of our groundhogs. Ultimately, for the most part, I suppose we have just learned to live with them – until now.


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