How To Get Rid of Groundhogs Safely, Groundhog Deterrent (When To Call Pro)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | February 26, 2024

Professional pulls a whistle pig out of its hole after learning how to get rid of groundhogs naturally and groundhog deterrent options for homeowners to protect gardens from groundhogs.

Learning how to get rid of groundhogs is essential if you’re facing challenges from whistle pigs or woodchucks, as they can significantly impact your garden’s health and productivity. These animals are extremely persistent and sneaky.

In fact, they are so sneaky that you may find yourself asking, are groundhogs nocturnal? Well, they are actually crepuscular, which means that they do their activities around dusk and dawn.

And although groundhogs can have enormous benefits for the local ecological balance, they can prove a menace to your vegetable garden and other plants.

Their holes can be 8 to 12 inches in size. They make their presence known through burrows, so if you are noticing a lot of holes and damage in your garden, groundhogs can be the nuisance.5

If you need to learn how to get rid of groundhogs safely, without resorting to harm, this guide can help.

It explores natural ways to eliminate groundhogs from your property and explains everything from what they eat to how you can lure them out of their burrows (and when you should call in a pro to help) so you can ensure that your gardens flourish.

Groundhog, Woodchuck

(Marmota monax)

Groundhog in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Description: Large sciuridae (squirrels) with short limbs, four incisor teeth, and fur that ranges from grey to brown to rust-red.
  • Natural Habitat: North American lowlands
  • Locations: Across North America

Groundhog Removal: How To Get Rid of Groundhogs

Besides repellents and exclusion devices, there are plenty of other ways of how to get rid of groundhogs.9

While repellents are going to keep these creatures away from your property, it is not really effective in killing them or capturing them.

Graphic showing ways of getting rid of groundhogs which include using antifreeze, fencing your property, setting up traps, and adding baits to your traps.

Here are some other methods for groundhog removal that help you get rid of your groundhog problem permanently:

How To Call a Groundhog Out of Its Hole

First things first, it is extremely hard to lure a groundhog out of its hiding i.e. its burrow. They tend to dig deep in the ground and nestle inside hiding away from predators.

You need to be smart and cautious when it comes to setting a trap and luring them outside their holes.

One thing that groundhogs absolutely despise is ammonia. If you have a cat or a dog in the house, a great way to lure them out is by placing a urine-covered rag at the mouth of their hole.

You can also put some cat litter inside the hole to make them come out.

Once they come out of their hiding hole, you can set out a trap and capture them. The best way to get rid of these animals is by relocating them somewhere far away.

Take them to a wooded area on public property. This will allow you to solve your problem in the most humane way possible.2

How To Get Rid of Groundhogs: Killing Groundhogs With Antifreeze

Killing groundhogs with antifreeze is a method that is talked about a lot. However, is it really effective?

Antifreeze is an essential liquid mainly utilized in automobiles. However, if you reside in a region with regular chilly periods throughout the seasons, you are very likely to be familiar with it.

Killing groundhogs with antifreeze is popular because it is easy to source and is also relatively cheap. The purpose of this product is to lower the freezing temperature of water.

It has a lot of chemicals that make this possible, one of these chemicals is a harmful toxin called ethylene glycol.

Ethylene glycol is a potent nervous system depressant. This means that it is a poison for groundhogs if it is ingested.

Similar to many chemical-based pesticides, it attacks the nervous system of a woodchuck and causes the heart to fail. So all in all, antifreeze is no joke and is definitely effective.

However, the question is that if a groundhog will drink it or not. Well, contrary to its harmful effects, this substance is sweet in taste and has a very nice aroma.

So, you will not have to do a lot of hard work to get those pesky groundhogs to ingest it orally. In fact, groundhogs love its sweetness and might drink it willingly.

Before you use antifreeze to start killing groundhogs, it is very important to check the local laws. In a lot of states, poisoning groundhogs is illegal and can possibly result in jail time.

Besides, there is always a chance that you might end up killing other animals like stray dogs, rabbits, and cats.

Not to mention the fact that the plants and soil of the area where you distribute it will absorb the toxins making the area unsafe for everything living, even humans, and the fat that the substance will probably leak into the local water supply, which again could be illegal and is certainly unethical.

To answer the question, is it effective? In some cases.

But should you use it? Probably not.

There are better options.

Fencing Around the Property

When it comes to installing fences to keep groundhogs away, the most commonly asked question is do groundhogs climb trees? Yes, they do.

It is surprising, how despite their chunky sizes, they are so impressively gymnastic. These animals can efficiently climb trees thanks to their sharp and strong claws.

A close-up of a red wooden fence, serving as a groundhog deterrent, separating a vibrant green lawn from a paved walkway.

(Image: Kapa6510)

However, there is a limit to their climbing abilities. Fencing is important to keep these pesky animals from your lawns.

However, it is also important to ensure that your fences are high enough and deep enough since groundhogs can also dig pretty deep holes. Groundhogs can easily climb 4 to 6 feet.

So make sure that your fence is at least four feet high and 8 inches deep. Also, choose a fence that doesn’t have holes bigger than an inch.1

Groundhog Trap

The best way to capture a groundhog is by using a live trap that won’t kill it.6 As we previously mentioned, in some states it is illegal to kill or poison a groundhog.

Besides, you don’t want to risk killing other stray animals. So if by mistake you catch a rabbit or some other animal in your live trap, you can release it later without any guilt.

There are different kinds of live traps available in your local garden stores. The most common one has a spring-loaded door.

You simply place a bait inside the live trap and let it sit outside a burrow. Once a groundhog comes out, it will be attracted by the smell of food and bait inside the trap and it will enter.

The weight will cause the spring load to snap, shutting the door after it and trapping the groundhog inside.

Once you successfully capture it, it is important to get rid of it in a humane way. The easiest and best option is to relocate it somewhere where it won’t be able to harm the gardens, house foundations, or property wiring.

Drive at least three miles away from the house and find a spot that is not inhabited by people. Release your captured groundhog and say goodbye to your pest problem.3

Groundhog Bait

To capture and set a trap for groundhogs, it is important to choose the right bait that they will be attracted to. If it doesn’t enter the trap, then all your money and hard work will be in vain.

Groundhogs may look clumsy and dumb, but they are in fact extremely smart animals. They sense and smell quickly if something is not right.

This is why it is important to leave a newly bought trap outside in the sun before setting it out. Wear gloves when you are setting up the trap to remove your smell as well.

A groundhog sits on lush green grass, nibbling on groundhog bait, with a small pile of wooden planks scattered behind it.

(Image: JSVT11)

When it comes to baiting, you need to first determine the things that groundhogs have been eating in your garden. For instance, if they have been particularly fond of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, or lettuce, these are the things that you will use as bait.

However, if it doesn’t work, use a cantaloupe as bait. According to the Havahart field test, a cantaloupe was the best bait to attract groundhogs.

Just cut it into two pieces and rub the cantaloupe juice inside and outside the trap. Complete your trap by placing some fruits and vegetables inside.3

What Do Groundhogs Eat?

Groundhogs belong to the squirrel family. The reason why they are called whistle pigs is due to the high-pitched sound they make in response to a predator.

They can be 20 to 27 inches in size and weigh approximately 10-12lbs.

The reason why these animals are attracted to vegetable patches and gardens is for food.

Groundhogs love munching on clovers, dandelions, and alfalfa. All of these are scarcely available in gardens and farmlands.

However, in addition to this, groundhogs also eat farm vegetables and fruits like berries, apples, corn, lettuce, carrots, and are particularly fond of tomatoes. So basically, they eat almost any plant material.1

What Do Groundhogs Hate? (Groundhog Deterrents)

To ensure the effective removal of these persistent creatures, you need to first understand what they hate. Groundhogs don’t like strong smells.

Most deterrents include ammonia, vinegar, garlic, and lavender. You can even just plant garlic and lavender near your plants to keep woodchucks away.4

In addition to this, groundhogs are extremely threatened by the smell of an enemy’s urine. If you have a dog or cat, you can use the smell of their urine to scare away these animals.

Other strong smelling natural substances, like Epsom salt, can work as well.

Groundhogs also despise getting wet. If like home gardening, consider installing sprinklers because they can be an efficient way to eliminate these pests.

If you are worried about water consumption, you can use motion-activated sprinklers that only turn on when it senses a movement, deterring groundhogs from entering the garden.

Groundhog Repellent

Using repellents with ingredients like lavender, castor oil, garlic, and vinegar can be effective. If you’re looking into how to get rid of groundhogs, these are valuable options to consider.

You can also make your own repellent by mixing one part castor oil and three parts water. Put some Epsom salt, ammonia, and talcum powder in the bottle.

Mix everything with a bit of water and spray it on your crops to scare away crop-eating groundhogs.

A groundhog sits on a grassy field scattered with autumn leaves, nibbling on a piece of food.

(Image: daledbet8)

You can also use ultrasonic repellents. These repellents have motion-detectors that get triggered when pests are within its range and scare them away with a loud ultrasonic sound and strobe lights.

Since groundhogs usually come out during dusk, you can install LED lights in your garden and around your property to confuse them. You can also use exclusion devices like one-way and two-way doors.

These doors allow groundhogs to leave but prevent them from reentering.

A lot of people also ask, will mothballs keep groundhogs away? The answer is that in some cases they can.

However, while mothballs can keep groundhogs away, they are not strong enough to get rid of them permanently. Mothballs also contain and leech toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, so they are not the kind of things you want all over your garden.

Pest Control for Groundhogs: When To Call an Exterminator for Groundhogs

Often groundhogs are totally harmless and can be left alone. But if the groundhog is damaging your property to the point you are searching “How to get rid of groundhogs under shed?” or “How to get rid of groundhogs under house?”, and it is not responding at all to deterrents, then it might be the time for you to contact a groundhog exterminator.

In some cases, it is impossible to do it yourself and you might need some professional help. The exterminator prices range from $150 to $200 dollars depending on the size of your garden and the amount of work.

By seeking pest control, you will not have to worry about relocating since they will take care of everything. Try to find one with humane methods, ideally that will live capture and relocate the animal.

All in all, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, and by far the best prevention are natural smell deterrents like animal urine, vinegar, lavender, garlic.

You might think about incorporating these into your garden, especially if you’re researching how to get rid of groundhogs safely and humanely.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Get Rid of Groundhogs

How Do I Get Rid of Groundhogs?

Consider distributing natural or organic smell deterrents such as vinegar, lavender, garlic, or animal urine. If that doesn’t work you may need to purchase a trap yourself or simply call a professional to trap and relocate the animal.

Are Groundhogs Bad for the Garden?

Groundhogs can potentially harm your backyard garden and parts of your house, though they are typically harmless. If you spot one, consider observing before taking action; at most, you might lose a few tomatoes.

Do Groundhogs Hibernate?

Yes, groundhogs are one of the few mammals that hibernate. This is why you may see reduced activity during the winter, and why North Americans celebrate Groundhog’s Day.7


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2Beaulieu, D. (2023, August 1). Groundhog Damage In Yard. The Spruce. Retrieved October 9, 2023, from <>

3Badder, B. (2023, July 27). 12 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Groundhogs for Good. Den Garden. Retrieved October 9, 2023, from <>

4Rajewski, G. (2019, January 28). Five Things You Didn’t Know about Groundhogs. Tufts Now. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from <>

5Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. (2020, June). Ecology and Management of the Groundhog (Marmota monax). Rutgers. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from <>

6Ferraro, D. (2023). PESTS & WILDLIFE — When groundhogs become a pest, trapping is an option. University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from <>

7Winick, S. (2022, February 1). Groundhog Day: Ancient Origins of a Modern Celebration. Library of Congress. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from <>

8Photo by daledbet. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

9Ferraro, D. (2023). Groundhog or Woodchucks. University of Nebraska-Lincoln | Horticulture, Landscape, and Environmental Systems. Retrieved October 20, 2023, from <>

10Photo by Kapa65. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

11Photo by JSVT. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

12Species Information Image: Brown rodent on gray sand during daytime Photo by Jack Bulmer. (2021, June 19) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <>