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How do I get Rid of Groundhogs?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

Groundhogs, also known as land beavers, woodchucks, or whistlepigs, are large rodents, of the marmot group. Because they burrow extensively, and because they subsist primarily on vegetation, they are considered a major garden pest. A family of groundhogs can easily destroy a food crop if left alone, so it is important to get rid of groundhogs as soon as it becomes apparent there is an infestation.

There are a handful of different ways to get rid of groundhogs, and nearly every gardener has their preferred method or collection of legends about how best to deal with the creatures. Some people wish to get rid of groundhogs in the most humane way possible, without killing them, while others just want to get rid of them quickly and efficiently. Some ways are more effective than others, as well, and it is important to keep a lookout for a resurgence of the groundhog population after you deal with it the first time.

Groundhogs are considered to be major garden pests.
Groundhogs are considered to be major garden pests.

If you’re not too concerned about using chemicals in your quest to get rid of groundhogs in your garden, using ammonia is a fast-acting, relatively humane way to go about moving the creatures. Although it sounds fairly brutal, if handled correctly it will eliminate the groundhog population without killing them at all. It works simply by making their burrows distasteful to them, so that they migrate on their own to a new patch of land, far from your garden.

Ammonia may be used to eliminate a groundhog population without causing them harm.
Ammonia may be used to eliminate a groundhog population without causing them harm.

To do it, you’ll want to wait until spring or summer, when the days are sunny and temperate, otherwise no matter how bad it gets the animals won’t want to leave their burrows. Then, buy some sudsy or cloudy ammonia from a store, and pour a great deal of it into a burrow. If you can’t find sudsy ammonia, you can make your own by adding eight parts ammonia to one part water to two spoonfuls of detergent and mixing it. Once the ammonia permeates the burrow the groundhogs will leave within a day or so, providing they have no young. If they do have children, they will first find a replacement burrow, then come back for the young, and then leave, which can take a few days.

Cages may be used to trap and relocate groundhogs.
Cages may be used to trap and relocate groundhogs.

Using a safe trap of some sort is another humane, less toxic, way to get rid of groundhogs. They are fairly smart animals, so you’ll have to be patient, but within a few days you should begin catching groundhogs, and within a week or so you can relocate an entire population. To begin with, you’ll want to leave the trap open and unset, with small amounts of food in it. This lets the groundhogs get used to the idea of a safe meal, and since the traps can sometimes take a while to be triggered, it means they’ll spend plenty of time in it. After a few days of this, set the trap, and you should catch your groundhog. Cover the cage with a blanket, and relocate the animal far away, just leaving the cage open for it to wander out of. Repeat this tactic until all of the groundhogs are gone.

You can also use fumigation canisters, or use lethal traps or a gun to eliminate a groundhog population. All three of these methods may be illegal in some areas, so it’s important to check with a local conservation association or fish and game office, to make sure you aren’t breaking any laws. Of these, shooting the animals is the preferred method of control, but care must be taken that local hunting laws aren’t being broken.

Discussion Comments


I've got six and a momma under the ground level deck. I would love to be able to have them relocated without causing any harm to any of them. How can I do that? It would be great if I could get them all at once!


You can go to your local farm supply store and buy gas bombs. Fill in all the holes with dirt except for one. Light the gas bomb and toss it in the last hole. Quickly fill last hole with dirt, and this should get them all.

You can also do it the tried and true way. Depending upon where you live. a .22 rifle should get them eliminated.


Getting rid of moles is quite easy. Get the cheapest smelling perfume you can find and douse a cotton ball, then put it in the mole's hole. Do this all over the yard and they will leave. It worked for me.


I have a few families of groundhogs staying in my backyard. Starting with the back neighbors dead tree, the side neighbors stone wall which is in my yard and under my wooden deck. My dog about a month ago killed one, but she ended up at the vets with a $200.00 vet bill. What can I do to get rid of all of them? I'm sure they have to many holes to cover and put some dynamite in there. Any suggestions?


I tried two bottles of ammonia, climbed under my deck with inches the spare scared as heck. poured both bottles in, put a boulder in the hole, poured an 80 pound bag of concrete in and covered it with dirt. In five days, it was back! I was ticked. i got a trap, two tomatoes and caught him in two days. I drove his butt 10 miles away. Now I've got two more to go. if he/she comes back, it's war!


I went to farm store and they sold me Ro-Dex. I put it on peanut butter and bread so far I hadn't seen any this spring. I dropped it near their hole. I see them on the next street but over here.


All of these suggestions are great but my ground hog has burrowed someplace under my ground level deck and I can't find the burrow opening without ripping up the deck. Any other ideas?


I used to be able to buy "Sudsy Ammonia" in stores, and it worked great to get rid of the groundhogs. I have not been able to find some anywhere this year.


I went to visit my grandparents one summer many years ago, and my grandfather warned me not to be startled if I heard a gun go off during the night - he planned to get up early to see if he could shoot the groundhogs that had invaded the garden. Luckily, he didn't see any while I was there, because I was very young and would have probably been very upset!

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    • Groundhogs are considered to be major garden pests.
      By: Sarka
      Groundhogs are considered to be major garden pests.
    • Ammonia may be used to eliminate a groundhog population without causing them harm.
      By: design56
      Ammonia may be used to eliminate a groundhog population without causing them harm.
    • Cages may be used to trap and relocate groundhogs.
      By: daveynin
      Cages may be used to trap and relocate groundhogs.