Groundhogs (also called woodchucks, marmots, or “whistlepigs” if you are from the south) are large rodents found throughout North America. Many do not think of groundhogs as pests; that is, until one takes up residence in their yard! Only then do most people come to understand the truly destructive power of the groundhog. Though they can live in urban or rural areas, they are more likely to be found in areas where there is lots of open ground or adjacent farm land, such as Mason, Dexter, Howell, Fowlerville, Fenton, Stockbridge, Jackson and Chelsea. They are one of Michigan’s most common animal pests.

Groundhog damage

Groundhogs can do a considerable amount of damage to property. The primary damage caused by groundhogs comes from their incessant burrowing in unwanted areas. These burrows are where the groundhogs sleep, rear their young and hibernate. The burrows are extensive, sometimes having up to five entrances, and can contain up to 45 feet of tunnels; the average burrow depth is five feet. Because the burrows are so extensive they pose real risks to agricultural crops and can even undermine the foundations of buildings. Groundhog burrows in agricultural areas are a particular threat to farm equipment, which can sink into them and become stuck. Horses, cows or other farm animals have frequently broken their legs by stumbling into groundhog dens.

Groundhogs prefer to dig their burrows against structures that provide overhead stability. In Michigan, common burrowing sites are around foundations, under sheds and decks, against tree stumps, boulders, retaining walls, under brick pavers, patios and anything with a concrete slab. Fortunately it is not difficult to determine if you have a groundhog: the presence of large holes in the ground with massive piles of dirt around them are the clearest indicator.

Another concern with groundhogs is their eating habits. Like other rodents, groundhogs are constantly gnawing. They are herbivores and will consume almost any sort of vegetation. Wild grass, fruits, leaves, roots, bark, crab apples and flower gardens are all food sources. They will also eat crops and can devastate both large scale agricultural harvests as well as your backyard vegetable gardens. If they burrow beneath a deck or near a foundation they will gnaw underground cables, causing electrical problems and headaches for the homeowner.

Groundhog removal

While the basic process for groundhog removal is simple, it does require attention to detail and constant maintenance. A key to successful groundhog trapping is removing other sources of food from the area, which can be difficult since groundhogs are such diverse herbivores. Add to this the fact that groundhogs are naturally suspicious of traps (they often have to be camouflaged) and that bait needs to be kept fresh and the challenges of groundhog trapping become obvious. Once a groundhog is trapped it becomes incredibly aggressive, snarling and thrashing about wildly in the trap. We relocate all captured groundhogs to wildlife locations at least 15 miles away from the site.

For recurring issues, it is sometimes necessary to install rat walls and other barriers for permanent exclusion from certain areas. Even after removing the target groundhog, it often happens that certain structures will continually attract more groundhogs from nearby areas. Like other rodents, groundhogs leave pheromone trails behind, which even after their removal can attract other groundhogs to the area. For this reason, exclusion from target structures is often a good idea. Because of all the animals that tend to get under decks in Michigan (opossums, raccoons, groundhogs), getting a rat wall is always a good precaution.

Creature Control’s technicians have the experience and know-how to effectively bait, trap and exclude groundhogs. Call 1-800-441-1519 today to schedule an appointment or with any other questions about solutions to groundhog problems.

Groundhog poison?

Despite what some people may claim, there are no approved poisons made for use on groundhogs. Some persons try poisons made for rats or other animals on groundhogs, but we cannot recommend this. It is never a good idea to use a poison for anything other than what is indicated on the label; in fact, using a pesticide other than for what is specified on the label is a crime. There are no legal groundhog poisons in Michigan.

Michigan Groundhog Removal

Creature Control is a family owned and operated business based in southeast Michigan. We service ten counties and have technicians skilled in groundhog removal all over southern Michigan. In service the Ann Arbor, Lansing, Jackson, Grand Rapids and Grand Haven metro areas, as well as Livingston County, western Oakland and western Wayne counties.