Pest & Wildlife Animal Information

Groundhogs

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are just one of 14 different species of marmots. Many consider the groundhog to be a giant North American ground squirrel. These animals cause a lot of destruction as they invade farmlands, backyards, and gardens in search of food. Once the animal invades a yard, the destruction is very devastating and help from a groundhog removal specialist is needed to capture and relocate it.

Habits and Behavior

Groundhogs live in tunnel systems they create underground. Though they prefer open, rocky landscapes, but have been known to make their homes in open fields. The tunnel system is up to five feet deep and sprawls out more than forty feet wide. Groundhogs are solitary animals, but live in small communities with no more than four adults. They communicate with each other by whistling.

Groundhogs hibernate, which lasts between three to five months, depending upon their geographic location. They mate once a year and the male only stays with the female until the young are born. He then leaves her to raise the young alone. She raises the young for about six weeks, then pushes her offspring out of the den to fend for themselves.

Appearance

Groundhogs are small, weighing about eight pounds and measuring up to three feet in length. The fur of a groundhog is a variance of brown hues, with the undercoat thicker and darker. The scissor-like teeth makes it possible for groundhogs to easily breakdown vegetation for food.

Diet

Groundhogs are omnivores, but eat more vegetation than meat. Their diet also consists of worms, insects, and small amphibians. Crops, such as corn legumes and alfalfa, are a preferred food source for these creatures. Groundhogs consume little water, as most of the water they need is consumed through the large amounts of vegetation they eat.

Nuisance

Groundhogs generally keep to themselves so they pose very little threat to humans. However, they do destroy gardens and yards by digging holes in the ground for burrows. Once underground, these animals will eat the roots of vegetables, causing the plants to start dying. Foundations become compromised from the loosened earth created by the large network of burrow tunnels created by groundhogs. They are also very territorial and will defend their claims against both humans and pets. Call a groundhog removal specialist when these animals become a nuisance.

Diseases

Though groundhogs tend to stay away from humans, there is still a great concern regarding the transmission of diseases. In some areas, these animals are known to carry rabies, which can be transferred to humans or other animals through a groundhog bite. It is best to just stay away because groundhogs will only bite if they feel threatened. Groundhogs also carry secondary diseases through the parasites they carry. Ticks are the most common parasites found on groundhogs and can spread tick-borne illnesses to humans and domesticated pets. Because there is a risk of the transmission of diseases, it is best to stay away and keep pets away too.

Prevention

Groundhogs seek shelter in the space under decks, sheds, and building structures. To prevent the animal from making itself at home, install a buried steel mesh at least 12 inches into the ground around the perimeter of a structure. Repellents are chemical sprays that may deter a groundhog from entering a yard. However, in most cases, the animal ignores it or moves their digging just outside of the repellent’s smell perimeter. Installing fencing around gardens is the most humane and most effective way of preventing this animal from entering. Removing all potential food sources is another way to keep groundhogs away. A groundhog removal specialist can offer ideas and tips to prevent these nuisance creatures from coming onto a property.

Removal 

When all else fails and the groundhog still makes itself at home on a property, it is time to call for help. Removing the groundhog without experience can lead to becoming severely injured. Groundhogs will bite and scratch when threatened in an attempt to get free. A groundhog removal specialist has the experience and the knowledge to handle these creatures safely and humanely. Once trapped, the animal is relocated to an open field, meadow or wooded area far away from civilization.

Clean Up

Once the groundhog is removed from the yard and all preventative measures are in place, it is time to clean up the mess left behind. Fill in any holes left behind by the animal. Remove any dead plants left behind in the garden. Once everything is cleaned up, repairs to the yard can begin. This includes replanting the garden and fixing any lawn damage using grass seed or sod.

Some damage might not be as easy to clean up and repair as the damage in the yard is. If the groundhog’s digging caused structural damage, contact a contractor for help repairing the damage. The contractor will conduct an analysis of the damage and know how to repair it efficiently. He or she can inspect the foundation and structure of the home to ensure there is no hidden damage caused by the shifting of dirt from the groundhogs digging.

Removal Specialists

Dealing with any type of wild animal can be very dangerous. There is a risk of being bit or scratched. Both of which can transfer diseases from the animal to human. Because of the dangers associated with handling groundhogs, it is best to hire an expert to assist with the removal. Before signing the contract, ask about any experience and qualification the technician has. Confirm he or she is licensed, insured, and has all necessary permits for removing groundhogs from a property.

Ask about the process the technician uses. This includes learning more about the methods used to capture, handle, and relocate the animal. The more questions asked, the more likely it is to confirm the animal will be handled and treated humanely.

Dealing with groundhogs can be a very difficult task. Not only do they tear up a yard and destroy vegetation, they attack back when mishandled or feeling threatened. Because of this, it is best to call in a professional groundhog removal specialist to remove the animal.

 

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