If you are up against a troublesome groundhog that is devouring your garden or creating unsightly holes throughout your landscape, the preferred method to solve the problem is to trap the critter and find a new home for it.
Considering how much of a headache groundhogs can become, and how difficult it is to get close before they scurry into their underground hideout; trapping groundhogs will be a cinch if you follow the strategies that I offer in this article.
Selecting the Right Groundhog Trap
The essential piece of equipment that you’ll need for trapping a groundhog is the trap itself. I use a Havahart trap, which works great and will catch animals without harming them so that they can be relocated and released safely.
Havahart makes metal “live-catch” traps that are suitable for catching groundhogs. The trap’s dimensions should include an opening that’s at least ten inches wide and about a foot tall. There are two popular Havahart styles for you to choose from.
The first stlye is open on both ends with a bait tray/trap release mechanism in the center. This model is supposed to make animals less cautious about entering because they do not see an obstruction at the opposite end of the trap. This style can be a little more difficult to set and also tends to be easier to trip accidentally.
The second style of trap has only one entrance and is closed on the other end, with a trigger release plate towards the rear end of the trap. This model is easier to set and not as sensitive to accidental triggering, but requires a little more care and effort to release the trapped animal. For trapping groundhogs I prefer this closed end style of a trap.
Bait, Who Needs Bait to Catch a Groundhog?
Groundhogs are active during the daylight hours and spend their nights sleeping underground in their burrows. They usually don’t wander too far from their burrows when foraging for food and at the first sign of danger they will quickly dash to the safety and cover of their hideout’s hole.
When it comes to dinner groundhogs really aren’t choosy, they’ll eat just about anything. In the garden they seem to target leafy greens and succulent, tender vegetation. This season the groundhogs in my garden were especially fond of okra leaves and green heirloom tomatoes.
They also snacked on carrot tops, cabbages, and melon vines, but weren’t too fond of the peppers or eggplants growing nearby. In the past I’ve successfully baited woodchuck traps with everything from cut apples, to watermelon rinds and fresh organic carrots.
I like to use carrots as groundhog bait because they will remain fresher over a long period of time, but the quartered apples may be a little more enticing to groundhogs. However as you’re about to discover, the bait that you use doesn’t really matter if you’re wise about where you place your trap.
The Secret to Fast Groundhog Trapping Success
When it comes to trapping woodchucks the most important consideration is the location where you set your trap. I was recruited to help a co-worker trap a nuisance groundhog a couple of weeks ago. His wife posed the important question of how long it would take to trap the critter?
When I said it would be in the trap the next morning she didn’t comment but I don’t think that she really believed my prediction. Well guess what was waiting for them the next morning? Sure enough, the groundhog that had been mocking them for weeks wasted little time in falling for the enticement of the trap.
The secret to trapping a groundhog quick, fast, and in a hurry is to take the trap to him and place it right outside of the animal’s den. What groundhog is going to refuse being served breakfast in bed? This trick will also reduce the chances of unpleasant surprises on your part, such as the time a skunk wandered into my trap that was intended for Mr. Woodchuck but had been set in a general area!
And just to make sure that we get the groundhog’s full attention, look around until you locate props such as crates, boxes, firewood, or containers that can be used to set up a temporary barricade around the burrow’s entrance. In this case there were large stones nearby that were perfect for the task. The barrier doesn’t have to be tall or sturdy, just sufficient to create a path of least resistance toward the trap.
Sure you can set the trap right in the garden or where you observe the animal feeding but that could still take days or weeks to coax him into the trap. Using this technique almost guarantees a speedy capture. Set the trap in the evening after the groundhog has retired for the evening and more than likely you’ll bag him first thing the following morning.
Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts: