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August 2008
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How to get rid of groundhogs from your garden

Although groundhogs may seem cute (especially since they find mention in movies such as the popular ‘The Groundhog Day’), they are a menace to gardens; in fact they are actually a serious menace that people often underestimate until it’s too late. While you may not want to mess with them for no reason, they might be secretly eating your crops and destroying your houses without you even knowing it. They are well known for their love of green leafy vegetables. They are also famous for digging up lawns and the underside of outbuildings to set up their burrows, in effect even weakening buildings. So if you see a groundhog in your garden, you know that it’s time you got worried.
The groundhog is a type of marmot, and what marmots are, essentially, are very large squirrels. Woodchucks, having large paws, dig big holes, not to bury acorns but to build tunnels to live in, and they will dig them in any relatively flat area, including your lawn. Adults average about ten pounds. They are strictly vegetarians. They dig large, complex, interconnecting burrows and are excellent diggers.
The holes they dig can be very dangerous, with fractures from snapping of the limbs in such holes not unknown. There are many devices used to get rid of groundhogs, ranging from shooting them (if legal) to getting rid of them so that they do not come back. It is also true that what worked for somebody else may not work for you. Here’s a list of some methods that have been used to control them:
– Groundhogs will assiduously avoid properties where dogs (even little dogs) have free roam. Occasionally, if your dog is very fast, it may force encounters between your dog and the groundhog. However, it is not necessary that a dog will be able to get rid of all groundhogs.
– Simulated urine of predators, such as foxes; supposedly putting some in their burrows scares them off since the groundhogs are very scared of foxes
– Hooking a hose to an automobile exhaust pipe, extending the hose down a burrow, and running the engine until the groundhogs come out; they will then have to be trapped. Or you could go in for fumigation. Fumigation is usually done with either gas cartridges that produce carbon monoxide or with aluminum phosphide pellets. Groundhog fumigation should be done in the spring (late April, early May) before the young leave the nest, and is most effective when moist soil is used to cover the burrows, sealing the gases in and leaving no means of escape for the groundhogs.
– One of the better ways of getting rid of them is to trap them. Different types of traps can be used, but using one that can kill them needs to be checked out whether it is legal (and should not harm other pets or even small children in the vicinity). You can also use a non-lethal trap and release the captured groundhog elsewhere
– Pour human urine around the entrance to the burrow; this persuades the groundhog that this place has gone bad and they move to newer quarters
– Fence your gardens. Use 1”-3” chicken wire or wire mesh fencing, and since these creatures can dig burrows, make sure that the fence is atleast 2 feet below the surface
– Double Bubble gum: Have you seen the bubble gums manufactured under the brand name of Double Bubble? Well, they are not your typical chewing gums. A plant expert one day suggested me to use this particular bubble gum. The truth is that groundhogs love this particular brand of bubble gum very much but the irony is, as soon as they consume this gum, it instantly kills them.
– Place pinwheels around your garden. Groundhogs are scared of movement and having a few pinwheels around is likely to scare them away.
If you are trapping them, then wash your traps with plain old unscented dish soap, and use latex rubber gloves to handle the traps. This way you won’t leave the suspicious smell of human behind.

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