9 Things You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs

A family of groundhogs—otherwise known as woodchucks. Photograph by W. Perry Conway, Corbis

This Sunday is Groundhog Day, which means that eyes that aren’t glued to the Super Bowl will be trained on Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and the verdict of its most famous resident: occasional meteorologist and full-time groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil.

Each year groundhogs enjoy 15 minutes of fame before most people proceed to forget about them completely. So in honor of Groundhog Day, we dug up some little-known facts about these annual celebrities.

 1. They’re related to squirrels.

Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are a type of rodent known as a marmot, and marmots are closely related to squirrels. “They are giant ground squirrels is what they are,” says Richard Thorington, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

What’s more, groundhogs have an extensive range and can be found all over North America.

“[Groundhogs are] the most widely distributed marmot of all of them, [with a range stretching] as far south as northern Alabama to northern Canada—and some are even found in Alaska,” adds Stam Zervanos, retired professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University in Reading, who’s conducted extensive research on groundhogs.

 2. “Woodchuck” has nothing to do with wood.

Groundhogs have many colorful names, including whistle-pig for their tendency to emit short, high-pitched whistles. They’re also known as land beavers, but their most famous nickname is woodchuck.

Surprisingly, the name woodchuck doesn’t have anything to do with wood. It’s thought to be a corruption of the Native American words wejack, woodshaw, or woodchoock. It may have its roots in the Algonquian (or perhaps Narragansett) name for the animal: wuchak.

Other sources claim it’s a bastardization of the Cree word otchek for “fisher” or the Ojibwe ojiig, also for “fisher” or “marten,” which Europeans appropriated and misapplied to the groundhog.

So how much wood could a woodchuck chuck? None, apparently.

3. They build impressive homes.

A groundhog’s burrow can be anywhere from 8 to 66 feet (2 to 20 meters) long, with multiple exits and a number of chambers.

There can be several levels to their burrows, says Zervanos. “They have a burrow for hibernating, and then they have another section of the burrow that’s more like their summer home where they can come out more easily.”

Their burrows even have separate rooms for defecation—otherwise known as bathrooms.

In some cases, groundhogs have more than one residence and move from one burrow to another.

4. Farmers consider them pests.

Those impressive tunneling skills make for great burrows, but they can also mean big headaches for those in the agricultural profession.

They dig fairly extensive burrows, and tractors can break an axle [driving over them],” says Zervanos.

And since the animals are herbivores—and prefer tender, young greens—they can make nuisances of themselves by raiding crops.

Soybeans, corn, family gardens, it’s all a banquet in the eyes of a groundhog. But some can be more discerning.

“They’re selective,” says the Smithsonian’s Thorington. “They’ll go for your best cabbages and best foods that you have out there.”

5. They’re loners.

Unlike some of their cousins, such as prairie dogs, groundhogs are basically loners, seeking out their own kind only to mate. (See “Video: Why Do Prairie Dogs Do ‘The Wave’?”)

“They’re pretty solitary for most of the year, so the male has no clue where the female is most of the year except when they’re ready to mate,” says Penn State’s Zervanos.

Even their maternal duty to their young is short and sweet.

“The mother nurses the young, and then shortly after they’re weaned, they tend to go off on their own. [They’re] about as asocial as you can get,” says Thorington.

6. When they sleep, they really sleep.

Groundhogs are known as “true hibernators,” going into a dormant state—in which their body temperature and heart rate fall dramatically—from late fall until late winter or early spring.

“True hibernators are the ones that can reduce their body temp below 20 degrees Celsius,” says Zervanos. “Bears for example, when they hibernate, they only drop their body temp to 30 degrees from 37 degrees Celsius.

“Any of the true hibernators can [also] reduce their heart rate down to about five beats a minute, and their body temperature can go as low as five degrees Celsius,” he adds.

But Zervanos, who’s studied groundhog hibernation extensively, points out that hibernation isn’t as cut and dried a process as people think. While groundhogs go into deep hibernation mode, there’s plenty of tossing and turning, so to speak.

“Hibernation is not a deep sleep that continues for the entire winter,” explains Zervanos. Instead, groundhogs go through bouts of “torpor,” when their body temperature drops to about five degrees Celsius, he says. They’ll do this for about a week, then wake up for three or four days, then go back into torpor.

“They do this about 12 to 20 times in the hibernation season,” says Zervanos.

7. They wake up early for love.

Groundhogs hibernate from late fall for roughly three months, then wake up when it’s still quite cold.

But it turns out they have a very good reason to drag themselves out of bed. There’s evidence that male groundhogs wake up early to get a head start on reproduction.

“The males come out and start to prepare for the mating season,” says Zervanos, which involves surveying their turf and making house-calls to female burrows as early as February.

“Typically, there’s a male that has a territory that includes several female burrows. And there’s some competition for that territory,” he explains. “They try to defend that territory, and they go from burrow to burrow to find out if that female is still there.”

Having determined where his potential mates are, the male then returns to his burrow to sleep for another month or so until early March when it’s time to mate.

8. They’re filling in for hedgehogs.             

The reported origins of Groundhog Day are various, but the concept is thought to be linked to the Germanic tradition of Candlemas Day. In Europe, however, the animal used was generally a hedgehog or a badger. How it wound up being the groundhog’s responsibility in the United States may have been a bit of a fluke.

“When the Europeans came over here, they didn’t have any hedgehogs or badgers to lay the blame on, so I think the groundhog got it by being here and being a good size,” speculates the Smithsonian’s Thorington. “He became the one to prophesize whether winter would come or not.”

9. They have great timing.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that we entrust predictions for the duration of winter to the humble groundhogs. After all, they display an uncanny knack for good timing.

Groundhogs have to know just when to emerge from hibernation to mate so that their offspring will have the best chance of survival.

“Most matings happen in a ten-day period in early March,” says Zervanos. “If [the offspring] are born too late, they can’t get enough weight for winter, and if they’re born too early, the female doesn’t have enough food to feed them.”

In other words, the window of opportunity is very small and the wily woodchuck has to get it just right.

If their instincts are that good, I’ll take the groundhog’s shadow over your average weatherman any day of the year.

Follow Stefan Sirucek on Twitter.


Stefan Sirucek is a writer and journalist who reports from both sides of the Atlantic. He's written for the Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal. Follow him on Twitter at @sirstefan.
  • Taryn

    Thanks for the fun article! However, regarding point #2, I feel compelled to point out, the well-known quandary to which you refer is, “How much wood *would* a woodchuck chuck *if* a woodchuck could chuck wood?” Whether or not the cute little rodent actually *could* — (the apparent lack of opposable thumbs alone suggests that would be unlikely) — is irrelevant. Thus the question remains far from settled! 😉

  • Sharon K

    these 8 things I didn’t know, and that they are related to the
    prairie dogs which are cousins, and they torpor, which being dullness and sluggishness, and the males wait for the matting
    time. theses are quite amazing creatures.

  • Deborah White

    You forgot, they climb. I’ve watched groundhogs climb trees and fences.It was not my imagination.

  • Karen Helms

    This was a great Article! Animals are truly amazing ! This one sounds very clean, Love that it doesn’t have to go out to use the bathroom 🙂 .And the timing thing, for mating/seeing it’s shadow for us, wow Nature again in it’s finest. Thank you!

  • an awsome person

    so did the groundhog see its shadow this year?

  • Stefan Sirucek

    Phil the Groundhog DID see his shadow this year. And right on cue it’s snowing on the East Coast!

  • Mona Murray

    Growing up as a child at my Grandfather’s farm about 30-40 miles from Punxsy, Pappy found twin babies and cared for them until the spring they didn’t come back. Piggy and Porky were darling as I have a phot of myself at about 4 yrs old holding them at the farm. Pappy figured one had been killed as he would hear the other one whistling every year.

  • Jim Parks

    As to Point # 4, they are pests. I raise a vegetable garden, and I have to be on constant watch for them. And they do eat very selectively: only the youngest, tenderest, tastiest plants.

    They are also relatively easy to trap. I catch 4 or 5 every year and relocate them.

  • Greg Laden

    Great stuff but one quibble: They are not related to squirrels. They ARE squirrels. They are, simply, a kind of squirrel like the Fox, Red, Grey, etc. Just a little funny looking for a squirrel.

  • Leslie

    I spent all of 2013 watching ‘our’ groundhogs. He came out on Feb 3 and stayed out. Pux ‘Phil’ was wrong last year. And yes, they do climb trees -I never knew that till last year. My husband almost got hit by one that fell out of the tree. ‘Flying Groundhog’ he said ‘almost got me’. They love apples. We watched ‘Dad’ pick one from the tree and throw it to the ground. ‘Jr.’ took it and started eating. ‘Dad’ came down and they had a scuffle – ‘Dad’ won. They were very entertaining all year. They were out until December. I am watching for them to come out for 2014. And they like flowers too – they were in my flower bed a few times. I nicknamed one of them ‘pudgy’. By August he deserved the name. (I don’t know who was male/female/old or young. We just named them.) Enjoyed the article. Thanks.

  • rph

    great article….thanks

  • Jose

    I can’t wait to start shooting them in the spring. To save crops and just for the sniper practice got about 15 last year. Such fun!!

  • Kathy

    I love your article. I’m waiting for “my” groundhog to show his face soon. He made his den by my fence near the bird and squirrel feeders I have. He loves to munch on the sunflowers and nuts. I hope he made it through this cold, snowy and difficult winter!

  • Ruben Edmund

    Thanks for the nice article, I never heard about groundhogs til I read your article.I ve known some of rodent type or marmot, like prarie dogs, mongoose,skunks,rats and the other cousins.Thanks once again, for educating me the essential instincts they naturally have.

  • chuck in nc

    Great article, but you need to add that they also climb trees.

  • Pat

    One showed up in the fenced in backyard last week. Saw it again today. Hubby said it was groundhog so I looked it up. Are they agressive? We have a 14 yr old dachshund whose health and eyesight are waning. Would a groundhog attack her? How do we get rid of it?

  • mary utley

    there is a ground hog in the fence row’ wondering if it would attack our cat?

  • Kevin

    Have a Woodchuck that traverses our back yard almost daily driving our 1 y/o black lab absolutely nuts. I fear that it may bite our lab and pass on a disease. They can be quite a nuisance and destructive; Therfore, I will be trapping it soon and relocating it to a rural park nearby. Sounds like apples will make a good bait for the trap. Thanks for the great info Stephan. Hopefully our unwelcome resident Woodchuck when relocated will find a suitable mate before the foxes and/or coyotes find him/her.

  • Linda B

    Well, guess I’ll begin by saying I’m an animal lover through & through. I’ve rehabbed baby birds, foxes & chipmunks and, all our pets are rescues.
    That said,
    If I could find a way to rid my back hillside from all ground hogs I would do it no matter what it took. They have built a borough 70 ft long w/ as many as 12 holes on the hillside just behind my garden.

    Each year they raid my garden to no end.
    I’ve tried buried fences surrounded by patio bricks, reinforced by piled rocks, let the thistles grow thick around it, poured poisons down their Extensive borough system, dropped big rocks down the holes, cut the grass low around the holes…planted squash plants and other veggies outside the garden just for them…Nothing works to keep them away. Because of the location being ‘down the hill, it’s hard to get a shot at them. My neighbor sat for 3 hrs one time & never saw one. We tried a have a heart trap & caught one but he broke it & got out 🙁 About to get a bulldozer in here….Any suggestions?

  • kathy welty

    Thank you so much for this article. Every yer we see a mama and babies, and watch them grow. Recently a neighbors dog killed one of the babies, we have not seen any of them since. Does the mama ever move to another den to protect her young ?

  • kim hanson

    I have a tenant saying that she has a woodchuck under her trailer.It’s eating his way the floor board and scratching his way to the living room floor. We have not heard the scrathing or seen the little rodent. Is it possible for a woodchuck to do this????? . The tenant is driving me crazy!!!!!!. I have woodchuck smoke bombs which I have use before. Thank you for your time in this matter kim

  • jamie

    Can we eat them?

  • Dereck

    I have a groundhog named guber but it’s a girl she’s been here for 3 years has pups ever year I call her like a dog she eats out of my hand and sits right beside me to eat . I give her carrots. problem is she went in to have her pups about a month ago and I haven’t seen her since now 1 pup with fur is out but no sing of her do you think she died moved on or what ? worried

  • Jacqui

    I have just discovered the little rodents in my fenced in backyard. We moved here last June and never knew they even existed…especially in this city. I also planted a few vegetables in pots and my husband said that they will eat my plants. I as raised in the country and we never saw them out there…this is ne to me and I don’t care how cute they are they MUST GO!!!! Can I set out bubblegum to get rid of them? It works for moles and a few squirrels…Tell me what I can do….I don’t want to hurt them…..BUT I WILL>>>>>>>>>

  • Janet

    There is a family of groundhogs in my neighborhood. One of them has taken up residence in my yard. My daughter planted a pot of pineapple sage and he loves it. He has eaten most of its leaves. I am worried about him running into my 12 yr old Tabby!!

  • georgie

    Friend had groundog family in veggie garden.every year. Tried “marigolds”, “cayenne pepper” on veggie, “fox, coyote urine” to chase them off….finally this year set havaheart traps with “canteloupe” caught all! They love canteloupe. Then on a sunny day, poured sudsy/cloudy ammonia in hole. Now they don’t no if it was their borrow..seems their borrow was outside the garden & this was the entrance hole…then rolled a huge rock over the hole.so far so good! Best to start lookin early for the burrow, be4 babies r born.

  • Walter

    I hate groundhogs. They have dug a burroughs under my front door step and under my cement drive way. I had pest control set two traps yesterday and I noticed one was killed today. We will leave the traps for 10 days to see how many we kill. Once they are all killed, I will have to do some major work in my yard to patch up the burroughs.

  • Reba

    As I write this in July 2014 I am watching a groundhog who’s got a den under the neighbors shed. He or she sunbathes and eats outside my kitchen window!!

  • K. sproat

    I have them under myshed and they riddle my garden…suggestions on getting rid of them for good!

  • christine from ky. we have groundhogs i dont know how many,i

    i am afried they will hurt my small dogs.

  • mike irvin

    How do i get rid of them? Im afraid they are gonna make a thanksgiving out of my big lush herb and veggie garden. Im real pissed with this fat tjings. Can i eat them????

  • Cene

    i peed my pants laughing at these comments. Hilarious. Loved the GONNA get a bulldozer one… Hahahaha. 1 chased me once. They are tall & freaky !!!!

  • Punxsutawney Paula

    Saw a groundhog in a tree in Pittsburgh of all places.

  • Melissa

    I Have one in my back yard..Made a winter feast out of my car wires..i was heated and cant park in my driveway..she spies my car out..very frustrating…

  • Pam

    The house I am renting has a huge lot of Kudzu, Ground hogs love it. The Mama had 5 babies in ’14. The Kudzu is very close to the house, so the babies and I made friends. They would sit not far from me and eat the Kudzu, they even listened when I talked. Sometime they made little sounds. I enjoy watching them, they are very funny.

  • Nick

    Gee, Jose — You sound like a ‘real man.’

  • gj nichols

    i love all the critters dont hurt them or mistreat them theyre probably more human than humans smile lol theyre all gods critters too amen bless theyre lil heart they jus want to come out for awhile and visit and collect food like us we jus dont hybernate amen

  • Ana

    We have a groundhog in our yard for years. I enjoy to see him around. I see him skinny in March and see him getting weight. I saw him yesterday for first time and today he was early outside. The first thing I do is taking pictures of him. For me he belongs to me.

  • Chris

    I’ve had this ground hog living in my backyard for a few years now & never really knew what it was. The ironic part is my grandpa that I was named after originally bought this house back in the 60s. His birthday was Ground Hog’s Day, smh. So my ground hog is somewhat family. Love that little guy.

  • Betty

    Do groundhogs keep rats away

  • Shodan

    I can attest to woodchucks climbing trees. Chased one up a tree when I was 12 years old and brought him down with my trusty bow and arrow.

  • tracy

    I would like to know how far they see and how strong is their sense of smell. They have caused major foundation problems to the garage where they live.

  • Tasha

    Hello I just wanted to leave a comment because I was going to ask how do you get rid of them but I see “mothballs”, The other comments were very funny and cute but today I was scared. Well today I was cutting my grass and I got to a hole on the side of my house litterly on the side of my house and happened to look in the hole.. Eyes looking back at me, I had ran so fast so hard lol that I ran away from my house before I knew it I had to lol at my damn self.

  • Les

    Just got rid of my groundhog!! Yay. I do love this cute little guy, even left him water and lettuce, but he dug a tunnel in my small backyard and ate my sunflowers! I purchased a humane trap at Home Depot and baited it with fresh lettuce…and waited. He didn’t go near the trap for the first day, but day 2 he went for it. I released him a short distance away in a nearby forested area near a river along bikes paths. I expect he is much happier where he is now then in my little yard.I wish I could post pics, really cute but a total menace of destruction in the 2 wks he was here. Anyway, hope that helps, I didn’t use any mothballs or other method…just left him water, and baited a trap with lettuce.

  • Sally G.

    My mom used to make ground hog stew, so that’s one way to get rid of them.

  • Darryl

    Be patient when trying to catch them.I use a live trap and bait it with zuchinni and half a head of iceberg lettuce. Took a couple of days to catch. What you do with it afterwards is up to you.

  • Yusef

    One had the audacity to waddle out during my cocktail hour and head toward the garden. Served it some hot lead and threw it to the crows.

  • Catherine

    I really enjoyed this article. We have a groundhog on our property. I am grateful to see him around. He dug a tunnel entrance under a fallen tree where the roots were pulled up from the ground. We think he might have other tunnel systems. He is safe and welcome on our property. I like getting photos of him.

  • Greg

    Well, that explains what has been eating in our gardens the past couple of months and pulling all the dirt out from under the neighbour’s garage!. As we were eating breakfast this morning, the groundhog showed up at our patio doors on the raised deck and was checking us out.

  • suzanne

    A big woodchuck formed his home under a shed at the edge of the woods. We put out carrots,lettuce, apples, even avocados and papaya and watch him eat and get bigger all the time. He’s great entertainment. If you need to get rid of one, please be humain and remove and relocate at the proper time for survival. ..

  • Eno L

    They also climb trees. I had never realized they could until I came home and the dogs had two of them treed.

  • Kathy

    I saw a ground hog that is living under our shed. It is huge! I thuoght it was a baby bear. I wish I could get a picture of it. There is 3 acres behind us so I know that is where it eats. Well to my surprise I saw a much smaller one. It was the size of a giant fat cat. So there’s 2 at least. It has been a warm winter here in North Georgia so no sleeping for my little family. Is it odd that they haven’t hibernated?

  • Sami L.

    There’s a creek out behind my place and there are two of them living by it.Planted lots of zucchini and turnips.Ozzy and Harriett have stayed out of my garden.They like to visit with my big dog.They haven’t caused any problems.If my Granny was still alive though they’d be jerky.Good meat.These are safe they’re friends with my Dog.Very friendly.Fed them lettuce and carrot as treats.They like being petted.

  • beachnut

    In response to comments above…Re: relocating. In places, it is & certainly should be, illegal to release woodchucks on others’ property. You don’t have the right to transfer your problems with their destructive behaviors to someone else. …And to the obvious apartment dweller who stated they are not related to squirrels but are squirrels: No. Do some research. Thats like saying foxes are dogs.

  • Joseph KingH

    Had one under my shed, he did major damage to the point that my shed was actually sinking on one side. Got a have a heart trap some cantaloupe, which they can’t resist, covered the trap with some brances and walla, got him! Took him on a nice 20mile trip
    Went home and covered up 5 holes
    It’s been about a week now and I see no more actively.

  • Susan Sam

    We have been observing and
    documenting woodchuck behavior
    since 2003. They have burrows
    in our barn, under our decks and
    shed for years. Currently we have
    the male and his nursing mate
    that we are watching and
    photographing while waiting for
    the babies to emerge next
    month in May. We have found
    the juveniles stay around until
    end of July or early August.
    Last year we had some very
    nice video footage of the male
    interacting with juveniles. Have
    found no reason to get rid of

  • Lisa

    They are neet creatures…but he’s gotta go…digging his holes in my horse pasture isn’t going to cut it. Nuisance critters.

  • dave

    We have 2 buffs (Big Ugly Fat Fellows) around my house. They sit in the yard, taunting me. For something so fat the littla rat bastards are quick. I’ve given my son permission to use my muzzleloader and send their furry little butts to the Great Burrow in the Sky. Headshots only, I don’t want to hurt them, I want to kill them.

  • Hilary

    I didn’t realize they were such a problem. We’ve got a little fellow in our backyard and we adore him. We call him Gary and wait anxiously for him to emerge each spring. Just saw him today. My kids love to watch him waddle across the backyard.

  • Ed

    Bought a Haveahart trap yesterday, baited it with cantaloupe and caught the bugger within two hours. Took her for a nice long ride. Have not seen the two juveniles since. Sic transit gloria marmot.

  • Kathy

    I saw one run across the road today. Apparently
    the cute little guys are moving further south.

  • harry

    I have 5 little rascals. 1 mom 1 dad 3 babies they live in my neighbor’s yard. they really don’t bother anything they eat grass and we feed them fruit and nuts.I really don’t see a problem with them. they live under his deck and across the driveway under a shed maybe i am lucky.do eat my flowers” somtimes” so we put mothball dust around the perimeter.and it works great. GOOD LUCK

  • Laura Schertler

    We have SIX of those nasty pests – 2 adults and 4 young rodents. I have successfully trapped and relocated groundhogs in previous years with my cage using cantaloupe, but this year that doesn’t seem to be working. Thinking that I need to act on my last resort, and put poison all over my lawn (I do not have any pets or children, nor do my neighbors). I have a rifle, but alas it is illegal to use if neighbors reside within a certain distance.

  • Mary B.

    I agree that ground hogs can be cute but they can also destroy foundations to buildings – I am grateful that hasn’t happened to me. However, I am growing a flower garden for pollinators and it is both frustrating and expensive to have them eat so many plants. I have raised garden beds with added fencing and they can reach through the fencing to grab perimeter plants. I gave up on the live trap as either they or raccoons were removing the bait without getting caught (don’t ask me how – I even tried tying the bait down). Now I am trying to reason with them and teach them what they are allowed to eat and what is off limits. Can’t hurt to try.

  • JZ

    Good luck to all the folks trying to eradicate them. I have had groundhogs under my shed for years. It has been on and off. I have been piling concrete bricks in there holes. It looks to frustrate them and they shy away. After some time, they return to dig a new hole. I have bought a new big trap this spring. It did not catch it yet. Does anyone know how long do they stay underground during the day in the active months(non hibernating months)? Or do they always come out to graze? I am trying to determine if it is just sleeping and hiding ? Or did it move to another place away from my shed? any insight is much appreciated. I do have a long term solution but it is expensive and requires much time.

  • Frank Rabuse

    It disturbs me to read macho comments about killing groundhogs, or even believing most of the negative things said about groundhogs from total strangers or internet talkers (publisher of this article excepted). Comments about them being pests or destructive, when the real destruction is coming from those that destroy these wonderful creatures. These animals are only doing what they were created (by God if you wish) to do, and we should learn to live with their habits. Pay attention to the earth — it is talking to us louder and louder. We are bringing the earth to it’s knees. Try to adjust behavior to cherish all living animals. Trapped and relocated groundhogs have a small survival rate.

    I’ve had many groundhogs living decades underneath a retaining wall behind my house, and it has shown no ill effect. If it does, I will fix it and leave the marmots to enjoy year after year. Small price.

  • Thomas Hendrickson

    I shot and missed at a big female groundhog ( because my neighbor told me to shoot them if I see them, I missed because my cousin was coming down the road in his loud truck and all it gave me was its head ) the other day and she has not come out in 4 days and I have not seen it since why is it taking so long for her to come back out.

  • Alex

    I had groundhogs under my 2 sheds for 5-6 years. Funny creatures, friendly – I loved them. I have the property on the shore of St. Laurent river, with a lot of trees and vegetation and lot of animals. In my bio garden, I had tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis and onions and they have never touched anything. But… this year (with no garden) I can see everyday the old female (I suppose) with five (five) babies, size of a medium cat. I was oversees for two months – April and May, and I guess, they were very happy alone in my backyard. They are so cute !!! But, I am worried – they are too many now – what should I do ? Around the sheds there are in/out entries to the tunnels – and now – some new diggings . They do a lot of work around…and they don’t eat eggs. I will feed them with carrots. Are they in the brink of extinction ?

  • Lauri

    I am NO LONGER a fan of the groundhog!!! I love animals and nature, and always found groundhogs to be cute, fuzzy little creatures, but I’m not happy having them on my property anymore. They live under one of my sheds located in a back field and it was always a pleasure to watch them come out and hang out in the grass. The tasty greens in my field were not enough for them this year. They finally found my garden and helped themselves to almost every bean plant and pea plant I had! (they left me a couple of the small and struggling plants). They didn’t touch the other veggies, like my tomatoes or potatoes, I bought some fencing yesterday and re-planted the peas and beans, but I’m so mad at these fatties! Grrrrr…..

  • Bonnie

    I just trapped and relocated 4 ground hogs this past weekend from my yard….Italian dressing on lettuce did the trick!

  • Rachel bowers

    This article is for people who enjoy n wanna learn more about groundhog critters n opinions not for hearing that you kill innocent animals.critters n get rid of them… Who cares really they bother you that bad. Out if everything going on in this world

  • Barry

    I have an invasion of groundhogs living under an empty house next to mine… That house’s foundation is already shot from the effects of them tunneling under it for years… My house was built in 1930 on a rock foundation… I’ve shot 4 of them in the past week, and buried them… Yes, you can eat them, but they are greasy, and stringy… I’m killing them before they get up under my house and weaken my foundation… My humane method is, one round to their head… Then I bury them to become fertilizer… Found a spot where one may have gotten under my house… Not sure if he made it, or if hes one of the 4 I’ve already killed… They’re cute, until your foundation starts collapsing… Than the cuteness will cost you thousands to repair… All the studies of these animals result in the best way to deal with them is by lethal means… Once the establish a burrow, they will always return… Death to them all….

  • Kili

    Seriously? All you poisoners, shooters and killers of these defenseless creatures need to get your souls checked. As for those scared they’ll hurt your pets, did you even read the article? No, they will not hurt your pets, and they’re adorable.

  • Gwen

    We have had a garden for years and this year a huge ground hog has found us. He ate most of our garden before we had a chance to see him to realize what happened. My husband had worked so hard and had the most beautiful garden ever. It must die and I’m not sure if there’s more than one. We tried to trap didn’t work. Shot gun is going to be our only option.

  • Nancy

    They may be cute but they are aggressive! One baby came on my deck & bit my dog on her lip! She needed to get a rabies booster & antibiotics! There were 4 babies mom died in the road . I trapped them with a havheart trap using apples & relocated them in a remote area several miles away. We are in the process of filling the burrow & finding all the exits!

  • Vicky

    My recently deceased Husband and I have had groundhogs and their babies on and near our property for over 12 years. The babies stay little all summer and the parents come back year after year and then bring their babies. They have never harm me, my Husband or even visitors. We have spoiled them with saltine crackers, carrots and hotdog/hamburger buns. They come to the back door and butt their heads to let me know they’re hungry. Since I am now a Widow & alone, they are all I have for company and I love the critters! I have two babies, one is very protective and has no fear, so I stay clear until it’s with it’s mom, who knows me and is sweet. I also have wild rabbits that know my voice and come running to me for saltines/carrots and bring their babies too. If you feed them carrots and bread (white), they won’t eat your flowers/gardens.

  • Edward Jackson

    I love the stories on woodchucks hers mine i love killing them i shot one and the baby this evening. So you marmot loving idiots get a life cuz im killing these chucks

  • Ann Smith

    I just have a question. I have a young one that just comes on my porch and just licks it. Just curious as to why. I was worried that by doing yard work this weekend I had destroyed its food source but we live in the country right by woods so that can’t be it. The holes are a nuisance but I’m getting a kick out of watching this young one.

  • Jy

    These things are destructive and repopulate so fast. I’ve been killing them every year. They are the only animal that are open season year around here and there is no bag limit. Kill as many as you want. As long as you people keep on feeding and nurturing them their population will never die down just like mice.

  • Ks

    Enough with the “be humane” business… I’ll try my best, but my dog has been bitten twice and the shed is rendered dangerous to enter because of the hazardous void burrowed underneath.

    They are pests. It’s unwitting, I know, but still the behavior of a pest.

  • Ryan

    We have one that has a borrow on the bank of a small stream right beside my work. It harms nothing. It stays right around our building in the mornings and evenings and eats all the weeds and weed flowers. If we come outside and don’t know it’s there it runs away. It’s never shown signs of aggresion. Maybe if it would feel threatened or corned but so far it’s not hurt anything . I understand people are frustrated with them when they are causing damage however this happens because we are building and pushing them to the point or having no choice but to adapt to their surroundings that we are taking from them. They are just trying to figure out how to live with us as we are with them. Good thing the table wasn’t turned and we weren’t them because we would be the ones being chased around with guns and killed and run over by cars. What’s wrong with trapping them and relocating them? Do you really have to kill them?

  • Gerry

    These things are a very tough critter. My husband shot one twice with a .22 but it didn’t die. Now we catch them and relocate. They seem to love nectarines. We caught eight now all on the fruit and it’s a catch everyday.

  • Lou

    My mother’s garage has old wooden swing doors. The groundhogs are actually entering the building moving gravel to get under the doors. I am now afraid to go in to get the car.she has seen them going in and out. Any advise????

  • Kay Glover

    Never saw a groundhog til recently. Hope I see em again long enough to kill em ! If you could see the damage that has been done to my normally very docile cat. I am 60 years old and live on a budget. I could not afford a vet and have nutured the cat as much as possible, but am afraid he will lose his site. The groundhog has been back twice more and is very aggressive. Death to them all.

  • Dewey

    If you see a groundhog hole where you don’t want one, stick a pinwheel (available at toy stores) next to it. Groundhogs, I have read, are frightened by shiny whirling objects. So far, that method has worked for me. I’ve also filled in the holes, which in the past would not have stopped the groundhogs from redigging. Groundhogs still visit my yard, but they have not redug former tunnel entrances where I’ve placed pinwheels.

  • Diane

    These HAVE to go!! We trap them with muskmelon. They LOVE it. They do a lot of damage!! They have dug under our retaining walls several years in a row. Finally–My husband put wire on the sides and this stopped that BUT then they dug under our deck and then proceeded to dig under our driveway which caused it to cave in!!!! Now tell me you shouldn’t destroy them!! They are a REAL PROBLEM!!!!!

  • Catherbo

    Used kitty litter in their burrows will send tgem away. Sprinkle it around tge edge of your garden and they will flee! We have a huge ground hog whi must be at least 20 years old that doesn’t bother anybody. If she digs an entrance somewhere we don’t like, we just pour our stinky used kitty litter in tge hole and voila! She moves on.

  • barbara noble

    I had a little guy living under my front cement steps for the last 2 yrs…. he and I became pals.. I would sit there and talk to him and he would just sit half in and half out of his entrance to his ‘home’ and listen to me… I would feed him apples, strawberries, vege’s and such.. to the point of him taking it from my hands… we had many visits and times together… he grew and he still lived under my ‘porch’… this spring he did not show up .. something must have happened to him… I live in a suburb and many people don’t like them .. I was sad….. but… a mommy had 4babies under my neighbors shed and now I have a ‘new’ baby HOAGIE (that is what our neighborhood named the 1st one… I feel so bad… somehow something (we have a resident hawk) must have tried to get it or got injured and it looks like his back is broken… he cannot use his back legs at all ..drags them.. and walks on his hip bones… I wish I could help him but he gets around ok.. I feed him more now that I know what they eat because he still has difficulty walking in the grass… he is becoming very friendly and doesn’t run when I come to my door now… he will eat when I am sitting out with him.. Eventually, I would like to be able to catch him somehow and get him to a Vet. to see if he can be helped…. love this little guy…

  • B Shea

    We have 1 also. So far just comes out to feed on grass & clover. I thought it was a baby raccoon until i got a good look at its face. I love having wildlife around but will watch to see if there is damage being done. If I notice anything will try mothballs. now I use pepper for the garbage cans to keep raccoons from them & it works very well.

  • Kevin

    I used to work in the tank farm at an oil refinery. Groundhogs caused major damage to the tanks as they would dig under them allowing air and moisture to get to the bottom of the tanks causing corrosion and eventually failure. I used to trap them then and would keep track of the numbers, I had 3 years that I got over 40 and the highest year was 56. Sounds cruel, but so would a tank of oil being released…

  • Kevin

    I worked in a tank farm in an oil refinery. Groundhogs cause a lot of damage to the dikes and under the tanks with their burrows. When they dig under the tanks it allows air and moisture to get to the bottom of the tanks causing excess rusting and eventually failure. I would trap the critters to slow the process. 3 years in a row I trapped and eliminated over 40 each year and the record was 56 in one year. This may sound cruel, but a leaking tank of oil would be worse for many more animals…

  • Samuel

    An hour or 2 ago, my brother was taking my dog for a walk and my dog and a groundhog were fighting. i was lucky that my dog won. the groundhog is dead and just a few scratches on her.

  • Martin

    I kill them any chance i get, they leave unsightly mounds of dirt, and tear up your yard. Ive seen a horse brake its foot and be put down becuase they dig everywhere ! It was running and steped right in a groundhog hole.

  • Mat

    I kill groundhogs because they mock me.

  • VA transplant

    Had a groundhog on our property making excellent snake habitats close to my house. They have completely undermined our barn and it has been deemed structurally unsound. I ha e never killed an animal of any kind before but today I killed the fat female groundhog that was here destroying everything. After the live trap didn’t work for about 3 months now, it stupidly walked into a set, but unbaited trap. I then took it into the field and used my rifle to send her onto the next life. I think it’s cute how some people here scold those for protecting their families and property against these pests. They are pests, like rats. They are no where near extinction and in fact we have an over population problem. Reguardless, I am not waiting for these things to bring perfect snake homes close to my house and my 2 year old daughter.

  • Linda S

    We have one living behind our shop for 5 yrs now. I am going to put a small sign..” home sweet home” next to the hole on the side of an embankment that I see him use. Interesting to know how they have different rooms and exits and how they survive our cold snowy winters. I always leave our leftover apples , carrots, even pizza for him. I had an employee kick him once and told him he was here before you were hired so leave him space. He is not a problem to us.

  • kim oliver

    If I see anyone killing a groundhog, I will definitely shoot the cold hearted bastard! Relocate them if they are destroying your property. The human population needs to be thinned out in my opinion! We have destroyed the natural habitat of these creatures as well as other animals. Like my dad used to say, we need another war to solve the human overpopulation! He’s right!

  • Jb

    Back home in nj heres how we took em out.. First, ground squirrel, ground hog, gopher, wood chuck, whistle pigs, whatever you wanna call’em, its a vegetarian and totally edible, they work best in a stew,, yummy,, next chucks are resilliant so its kinda hard to take them out with a .22 when theyre next to their hole, that why ny is better to hunt them, but heres your best bet,, you lay and wait with your rifle and when he’s out and about, all you do is whistle,, he/she will get on their back legs and stick its head Up and whamo! Thats all she wrote, Thats when you drop the hammer and send em to the gopher promised land and the stew pot!

  • lillianna

    I HATE GROUNDHOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jeff


  • dave

    .44 mag. works real good on them.. if anybody thinks that’s mean look at it this way, horses, when they run sometimes step in there hole and break there leg. I like my horse better..

  • renva

    I love ground hogs!! I had 2 for pets actually 4. But the last 2 were so much fun & I fed them well. Rosie seemed almost human..she had a great personality! when she ate banana nut muffins she twirled the muffin around and ate the outside saved the middle for last. They were a blast….she still comes back in the summer and I bake her sweet potatoes….she loves them…but not raw 🙂

  • Hak


  • Charlie

    I can’t believe the amount of narrow minded ignorant people who are proud to show how ignorant they are, by stating how they want to hurt or kill defenseless animals. It this lack or respect for other living creatures that prove humans are unfit to be on this planet. Groundhogs are amazing creatures. They were here well before any human was and they deserve to be here, more so than any human.

  • Gayla Pappenfoht

    Pets? Oh, my. I am certain these are not furry little lovers. I have allowed one or more free range outside my home in the country. He has repaid me by gnawing through my tv cable and now my automatic steering cable. These are not going to get a Home Sweet Home sign… or muffins…

  • Bob

    Our woodchuck is named Wilbur. He lives under our deck, and under our shed, but his winter home is in a burrow on the side of a 30′ cliff. He has great adventures. He watches NNN (NATURES NEWS NETWORK). Last year his computer spot out 30,000 of Hillary’s missing emails and FedEx delivered her missing laptop and Blackberries. This year he has become an investigative reporter for NNN as he heared that a Chicken named Little is telling everyone that the sky is falling and he has set out to see if the sky is really falling. You can follow Wilbur’s adventures on Bob Losekamp’s facebook.

  • J

    To the dismay of some groundhog lovers, in my state it is illegal to “re-home” them. And often the critter dies when moved to a strange location with no burrow. It’s no pleasure to shoot one, but then farmers have little other choice. When you farm hundreds of acres, your cutes little groundhogs can really cost the farmer a lot of their crop. I’ve seen them destroy hundreds of row-feet in a single day.

    Luckily, there are ways to exclude them from small gardens, by burying fencing a foot deep and making a “floppy fence” of chicken wire on the outside of a field fence, with 2′ of loose wire curling over. That keeps out raccoons, too.

    Everyone has to eat, but I feel no disgust when a farmer shoots a critter eating our food. City and suburban folks do not consider that very often.

  • Steve H

    Trapped and relocated first one today. I’m not sure how many more but I will try the mothballs and cat litter. I caught mine in have a heart using carrots. It only took eight hours. They have destroyed the whole hillside where the garden and flowers are.

  • Selkins

    I have a wood chuck that is in my woodpile . We were putting the wood in the wood shed when we noticed it .so we left it alone and figured it got scared by our dog or us and would leave if we left it alone . But as of today it is still there. And I think it may have been in my garage a few days ago because my dog was going nuts trying to get to a corner of the garage ,but I didn’t think much of it because there was a stray cat in there the week before which I caught and had to take to the SPCA because a already have four stray cats I have adopted . I was working in the garage and figured I scared it out of there . But why would it be staying in my woodpile and not leave when we were right there doesn’t seem to be aggressive . Thought they lived in holes in the ground . So I don’t really know what to do .i will not kill it . Unless it becomes aggressive or looks like it may have rabies . Just trying to figure out why it is in the woodpile or why it would be in my garage not under ir but in it

  • Dan

    I let one live under my shed the last 3 years. Now I have 4 little ones. They are cute, but destructive in the end. My shed now has so many holes the foundation is failing. They are very abundant. They are a nuisance to many things. There is plenty of land for them to live off. For those wanting them as pets they are a wild animal. For the lady placing the life of a Groundhog above other humans, you are the one with te real problem. Our local Depart of Natural Resources know exactly what needs saved and what needs controlled. When man came to the US, Groundhogs were controlled by other predators. When we eliminated the natural predators, we caused a problem by not having any natural control over Groundhogs and other animals of the like. There are far more than what there should be and they should be controlled..

  • Todd R

    Had a woodchuck invade my garden last year during the drought. The thing moves very quickly. I saw it about five times and for a total of about 30 seconds. It always ran down a hill if it saw me. Couldn’t find its hole in the hill even after cleaning the waste on the hill. I made a havaheart trap from scrap wood. I trapped bunnies, squirrels, skunks, but couldn’t lure that woodchuck in. Woodchuck lay waste to my sweet potatoes and zucchini plants. It didn’t like pepper plants 🙂 Cornered it under my shed once. I poked at it in that mess that is under the shed. I must have hit it a few times, but it never made a noise. Then it ran over my butt, when I leaned down to look under the shed. Damned near scared the bleep out of me running like that.

  • Monique A Smith

    I had a momma ground hog and six babies was really enjoying watching them then one night I gave them corn on the cob and two days later all but one seem to be gone I’am hoping I didn’t kill them with corn but it has been four days now and it still is only the one baby and it looks so sad wish I knew what happened

  • Michelle

    Haha Taryn I like your comment :b of course there has to be psychos on here stating how much they love to kill helpless animals. I would stay away from those type of people. Not a big step to kill humans.

  • Renata Dedde

    I have a woodchuck who comes by twice a day to feed on the birdseed. He can stay. He’s not bothering us. He goes back to his woody area once he’s done eating. I didn’t think I would attract a woodchuck by feeding the birds but he’s here and and I’ve named him Winston. He keeps his distance. Just a little guy looking for A good meal.

  • Joann

    For many years “Fred” resided under an apple tree in our yard and was a main attraction in our neighborhood. He was huge and often drunk from fermenting apples. He would stagger and when he fell it would take great effort for him to roll over and get up. We cut down the dying apple tree many years ago but his descendants still live under the old shed. I heard my golden barking like crazy one day to find him about two feet away from a groundhog up on its haunches hissing and bearing its incisors. I think she was probably protecting her babies.

  • Eliza

    How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
    IF a woodchuck could chuck wood?
    A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as he could until the woodchuck would Upchuck! 🙂
    Because these cute guys can eat like it’s the last “all you can eat” buffet for eternity on a daily basis. I have fought them from eating an entire vegetable garden for a while and this year finally put the money into a better fence but haven’t yet dug the bottom of it into the ground around the edge just laid it on top. It is a raised bed. I wish I’d known I was supposed to put hardware cloth under the dirt before the dirt got put in . Oh please oh please oh please let this work at least a little bit. I wouldn’t mind sharing but they take out the whole 400 sq ft thing fast. What they don’t eat they destroy. They take one or more test bites of like every tomato and move to the next one to see if it’s better so they all rot and they can take down all green plants so fast untill there is nothing left. Last year was the worst. I replanted three times last year and got almost nothing and when anything big like a broccoli plant started to grow back they nibbled it right down again They eat most crops and they are almost as destructive as deer. Not supposed to trap and relocate here although I know a lot of people do this because they work so hard on their Gardens and get wiped out. The wildlife Department Experts say that they won’t survive if they’re relocated because they have such family structure groups and it’s more humane just to kill them but they seem pretty tough and determined to me. I know that many have been trapped and relocated from this general area yet there seem to be just as many still around here every year. I think the cat litter trick is pretty good but you have to do it more than once and you have to be careful about where you put cat feces if it’s near food or water sources. And on that note PLEASE!!!!!!!
    NEVER USE POISON!!!!!!! NOT FOR WEEDS or INSECTS or NUISANCE CRITTERS like MICE GOPHERS etc. EVER! IT GETS IN GROUND WATER! Many chemical poisons CAUSE CANCERS! Poison KILLS all of us! Birds pets especially fish in anything that lives in water! If you think, oh, it’s just a little bit of poison, think of how many people are adding that little bit. It all goes into this ground and it goes into the water cycle. Think of all the people you love that died of cancer. Think of how precious water is that you want every day and need for life. There are alternatives that you can use! Do the research for whatever you’re trying to get rid of and Dont Use Poison and Chemicals. Use essential oils, herbs, cinnamon, hot pepper Cayenne, neem oil, salt, boiling hot water, white vinegar, diatomaceois earth etc. Don’t buy poison!
    JUST BECAUSE IT IS AVAILABLE AT A STORE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SAFE! CHEMICALS THAT POISON BUGS AND WEEDS WILL KILL YOU TOO! SOME PERSISTANT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS (POPs) STAY IN OUR WATER AND ENVIRONMENT AND DON’T EVER BREAK DOWN. THEY POISON EVERYONE CAUSE CANCER AND MISCARRIAGE, BRAIN DAMAGE, INFERTILITY. DON’T LET CHEMICAL COMPANIES LIE TO YOU THAT THIS IS SAFE BECAUSE YOU CAN BUY IT! It all stays in the ecosystem and it goes back into everything you eat including the animals you might eat and every drop of water on Earth has already been here forever. You could be drinking a molecule of water a dinosaur already drank right now!
    Blessings, good life, peace and good health to all! ….

    Even to you dang groundhogs

  • Lynda Rendell

    Your not allowed to kill any animals in Canada. We don’t have many here. I’ve never seen one. Raccoons many many in city too.

  • Tom W

    The half grown fellow recently moved in under my barn. He will permit me to get about 20 feet from him before he takes a dive. For the past few days I have been sparingly feeding him left over vegetable items (apple cores, banana peels, etc.). I find he does not like lettece leaf? I know that there is some risk to the stone foundation blocks to the barn but I sure hate to evict him. I like to watch him in the late evening.

  • Heather

    I live in the city, and here the groundhogs have tough lives. Seen a few dead ones who had been hit by cars this spring. We’re lucky enough to have a family of them visit our yard every day. I leave carrots and lettuce out for them now and they love it. I hope that one of the babies decides to make its home in our backyard!

  • Jessica Frost

    I live in the country and next to me is an abandoned trailer home on two acres. I have a big ol groundhog who lives there. I get the biggest kick outta him. His fat waddle peeking his head up in the windows of the trailer or in the field. I joke he is my cranky old neighbor man Lol. He doesn’t bother my garden or my family. I like him and wish him well and hope he is the only neighbor I ever have there !

  • Mason ODell

    I live out in the country in southern Michigan. I live on a farm and constantly they’re woodchucks in the fields and tree lines. If i ever get bored i just walk around and look for some to kill. I have got 8 so far this year. They are pest because they eat all our beans and dig big holes in our field’s.

  • Melissa

    I’ve had them in my barn for three years, filled up holes, so far caught 24 this year, we release them about five miles away, my husband and I call this move “taking them for a ride.”

  • Hans

    The eagles, hawks and buzzards sure do like them.

  • Rose Versteeg

    I ❤ our family of groundhogs! They give me joy daily!
    They eat dandelions! The young wrestle and play! They stand up and look around! They are the cutest!! Why would anyone kill them, bra relocating? Hmmm
    July 14, 2017

  • Rose Versteeg

    July 14, 2017
    “Instead of relocating”

  • Cjh

    I saw that someone caught 24 in one season on their yard and is relocating them. Why, so they can destroy someone else’s garden or barn or garage or house??!! They have done no good at my place, killing my corn, peas, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc etc. not to speak of the damage they have done to my foundations. I am a peaceful person, by nature, and I have tried every other viable option to keep them from destroying my property and hard work, the only option I’m left with is to hunt them. There is no other way, it’s illegal to relocate them to anywhere besides private property in jersey and no one wants them on there land either, so it’s to the grill with them. And if you love them now wait till they destroy your homes foundation and all the hard work you put into growing crops for your family, decimated before your very eyes. That’s not cute, that’s bullshit.

  • Victoria Ley

    I’ve had adults and theirs babies coming out in the early Spring for almost 13 yr. now. My Late Husband began feeding a litter of baby groundhogs, saltines back in 2007. Now I’m the designated critter whisperer. I have 8 babies and 3 adults this year. 2 have been taken by hawks but the others come to my back door, scratch the bottom of screen door and very gently take a bun, carrot or saltine from my
    hand. The babies stay small all summer then bring their babies back in the Spring. They are sweet, funny and love to follow me around my back yard. If I sit on my porch, they come up and put one hand on my leg and their treats/food knowing I will protect them from the hawks. The same with 7 baby and adult bunnies/rabbits. They sit on my foot and eat crackers and carrots.

  • Robert Smithston

    They tear up the foundations under our buildings, then knaw their way our from the buildings themselves. I like to put them in the smoker, or brown them good and put them for a nice slow hot look in the dutch oven to make a nice stew to put over noodles.

  • Tim

    Groundhog Shower:

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