Woodchucks / Groundhogs
Silly tongue twisters aside, woodchucks – more commonly known as groundhogs – can do quite a bit of damage to your property. These marmots prefer to stay out of doors, so you’re not likely to encounter one inside your home, but a single groundhog can lay your garden bare in search of food, leave behind extensive lawn damage and burrow holes that can lead to injuries. They’ll also gnaw on trees and other wooden structures to keep their teeth in shape — they’re closely related to squirrels and other rodents, so their chewing alone can do quite a bit of damage.
Need Groundhog Help?
Are you having woodchuck and/or groundhog problems? Call Critter Control today at (574) 825-1079 in South Bend and Elkhart, or (260) 632-5106 in the Fort Wayne area and our trained staff will be there to help with woodchuck and groundhog removal.
Identifying Woodchucks / Groundhogs
Woodchucks can reach up to two feet long, including the large, bushy tail, and weigh as much as 15 pounds. These furry nuisances come in shades of sandy yellow to gray, as well as multiple brown hues. They’ve got flattened heads with rounded noses, short stubby legs and small ears. Woodchucks can often be seen quickly scurrying about vegetated areas in search of food or travelling to and from their dens and burrows.
They usually prefer fields and meadows, pastures, the outskirts of wooded areas and crop fields, though they can also be found in untended patches of earth alongside highways and roads. Primarily an East Coast and Midwestern pest, these nuisance critters live in burrows that are dug straight down. They’re diurnal and spend a few hours a day above ground seeking food before going back to their burrows.
Woodchucks become a problem when they gnaw on wood to keep their teeth in good shape — they don’t discriminate between trees, woody shrubs or your deck or porch. Their burrowing habits pose a hazard to people and animals — since the holes are dug straight down, they can be quite deep and stumbling upon one can lead to an injury or fall. Groundhogs also lay waste to gardens, particularly in late summer and fall as they gorge themselves in preparation for hibernation.
Groundhogs are vectors for diseases that can affect humans, including tularemia and rabies. Although you’re not likely to be bitten or scratched unless you attempt to remove them from your property improperly, when it does happen it’s painful. Woodchucks also play host to botflies, mites, ticks, fleas and lice, which can create their own sets of problems for people.
Dealing with a Groundhog Problem
Exclusion is the best way to deal with groundhogs, and a good offense is the best defense. A fence at least three feet high with wire deterrents below the fenceline can prevent woodchucks from climbing or burrowing around it. Properly sealing off less frequently used areas below porches and decks removes the temptation for a woodchuck to burrow and build a den in these oft-overlooked areas.
Sometimes woodchucks can pose enough of a problem to your landscaping, garden or crops that removal becomes necessary. Wildlife specialists from Critter Control are trained and knowledgeable in the safe, humane and efficient removal of groundhogs. Don’t try to remove them yourself, as these pests can be evasive and may be diseased. Rather than risk your health and sanity, entrust the job to a professional.