How to Quickly & Easily Trap Nuisance Groundhogs

August 27, 2007

I’ve endured my share of groundhog conflicts, and at times they’ve even had me talking to myself, but I’ve learned a few things about the best way to trap a woodchuck from my unpleasant experiences.

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.

Groundhog in a Havahart TrapConsidering 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

Groundhog BurrowWhen 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!

Woodchuck CorralAnd 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.

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  • Great post Kenny! Especially the tip about locating the trap right outside the den. Playing a radio 24-7 has been keeping the groundhog out of my garden until I got my trap ready. I’ve been leary of turning off the radio and setting the trap in the garden because the groundhog might still prefer the garden plants and not go in the trap. I have a pretty good idea where the entrance to his den is so I will try your method.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks Marc, good luck catching your destructive groundhog, or is it groundhogs. I also posted an article about relocating groundhogs after they have been captured.

  • Warren

    I set the trap at night with sliced Apples. Not to bright, I caught a 15 pound coon.
    My son said you don’t see coons during the day but groundhogs will romp all over the yard. I’m going to try and set first thing in the AM.

  • Arnold Bullock


    i usually trap the hogs and drop them in parks that are not heavily populated or that have lots of activities going on. Is there someplace that they can be taken after being traped, what is the best thing to do

    Arnold Bullock

  • Thanks for the info Kenny! My wife and I successfully caught and released a groundhog this past weekend. The need to relocate him occurred when we saw him climb over our 2′ garden fence last summer.

    Used a medium-sized live trap that my wife uses to trap stray cats. Set the trap up by our shed (where the groundhog took up residence last spring), in an area where I knew he feeds. Used gloves to cut down on human scent transfer anytime I touched the trap or bait.

    Baited with apples, lettuce and carrots. He went for the lettuce and carrots, didn’t touch the apples. I think it was the carrots that got him! Set trap Friday at 4pm and he was caught Sunday around 4pm. He was all around and actually in the trap at points on Saturday, but not far enough to trip it. Patience is the key here! Released on the edge of a large wooded area away from houses and humans — some 6 miles away from our house.

  • Tom

    I caught the first two with a live trap. They were smaller. Today I check the trap and I must of had the big one. He chewed through the wire of the trap and escaped. Any more suggestions for this mighty powerful groundhog? They are burrowing under my garage and I am affraid my concrete slab is going to cave in.

  • Kenny Point

    Tom, sounds like you need a stronger trap, there’s no way a groundhog could chew through a Havahart trap. Fix your trap and continue what you are doing since you seem to be doing just fine at catching the groundhogs.

  • Kerusher

    Forget the bait. I trapped five last summer with a small circle of chicken wire with a square cut out of it the size of my have a heart trap. Set that up around the hole and throw a running hose down the hole. They’ll be out and trapped in a couple of minutes. Bait takes too long.

  • walter

    I have tried all of your methods but they dont seem to work for me because the groundhog lives under a shed what should I do? I have set up a trap and a barricade to stop the groundhog and tried to flood the den to make it come outside but all it does is make another way to get out. Should I set up more traps?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Walter, what are you using as bait for the groundhogs and what type of trap are you using? Try alternating your baits until you come across something that attracts their attention enough to entice them into your trap. I’ve had success with sliced apples and carrots.

  • Marilyn

    If you have a Home Depot near, they sell these wonderful little sticks called Gian Destroyer. They are the best thing I have ever found for getting rid of gophers, ground squirrels, rats, etc. You simply light one, place it in the hole, then place dirt over the hole, and the stick gases them so you don’t have to bother with getting rid of the dead carcasses. The only thing you have to be sure of is to look for any smoke coming from other holes and hurry to cover them up so the gas smoke can work. Good Luck, I had over 100 ground squirrels last year and not one this year after using this product.

  • karen

    Just wanted to say thx a mint for the detailed explanation & pics; your efforts really help others – I’m sure many more lurk and gain then post. In our town, Animal Control staff come out and help homeowners set the trap. After 3 days of the groundhogs frolicking around the cage, I had no success so I searched the web. I googled your article and tried it and yes, indeed, much to my delight I’d caught one the next morning. I reset the trap when the staff brought the trap back, and this morning, it caught a big one. I think there may be one more so I’ve set it again. BTW, they like carrots a lot more than the cinnamin spiced apple slices the staff suggested.

  • Kenny Point

    You are welcome Karen, thanks for visiting the site and I’m glad that I could help you trap and relocate those groundhogs.

  • Jordan

    Just wanted to say that this method works! My grandparents have been trying for several weeks to catch a groundhog that had been burrowing under their back deck, and driveway, which was causing the stone to cave in when walking on the drive. This was causing a dangerous situation for them, as they are both in their 70’s. I found your website, and went over to their house this morning to set up your trapping method. I just used some scrap wood about 6 inches wide and several feet long to set up alongside the den. I just created a funnel like shape straight into the trap, baited with sliced apples. This evening when my grandparents returned home, the groundhog was trapped! Thanks for your site.

  • Belle

    I had a groundhog problem, a family of them were living under my shed. Then they moved to a neighbors yard, but dug a hole under the fence and come back into my garden. I bought a trap, just 1 open end. So far I have caught 6 possums, 4 groundhogs, and 1 raccoon, but there is still at least 1 large groundhog that refuses to be trapped, I have tried a variety of baits. I haven’t tried carrots yet, it or they ate all the green beans when they were a few inches tall. What else can I do?

  • Kenny Point

    Belle, I would try setting the groundhog trap right at the opening of the fence where the groundhog is entering your yard and see if you can catch the last critter that way. Good luck!

  • I’ve got some interesting ideas, thanks. Now the battle will continue. I’ve set my trap many times with diff. bait. No luck he is either smart or dumb. He is under my shed. I will clean my trap, set up barriers and place carrots in the trap. I’ll let everyone know !!

  • Belle

    I have tried putting the trap right up against the fence, the groundhog will not come near it. I’ve tried all kinds of baits. This morning I went out and there was a full size raccoon in it. I have caught 13 critters so far, but this big groundhog (s), refuse to be caught. About 5:30 every evening it comes into the garden. The coon had chewed the wire clips at the other end, and I tied it back up with nylon ties, some of those were chewed by the coon today. Any suggestions?

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  • Kenny Point

    Belle, I would continue to try and try the remaining groundhog. If you know where he is entering the garden or where his den is located, set the trap right there and place some type of barricade along the sides to coax him into the trap. Also alternate the bait that you are using from carrots, to apples, celery with leaves, etc. and maybe even add a bit of peanut butter to the bait.

  • belle

    I think havahart needs to make stronger traps. I finally caught that very large groundhog, I picked the trap up, and it was moving back and forth, plus the weight of the groundhog, it came right through the closed end of the trap. I guess I’m going to have to take a coat hanger and pliers and tie that closed end shut. I have been after this groundhog for months now. They like pears. When do they go into hibernation? Also, when do they have a litter of young ones?

  • Kenny Point

    Belle, I would contact Havahart and explain what happened to them because there is no way the trap should malfunction like that or that you should have to wire it shut to keep it from opening in that situation. I also wouldn’t use the trap again until the problem was determined and resolved. I’ve used a number of different styles of Havahart traps and have never had a trapped animal even come close to escaping before I released it.

  • Mike

    OK I got one for you, groundhogs are terorizing my moms neighborhood by getting into the engine of their car’s and chewing up the wires, I opened the hood and there he was, had to poke him out with a stick. one car was totaled, exposed wires caused a fire. I have tried traps but only caught coons and possoms. I think he lives under her shed by her garden. Think Ill try carrots. thanks for your post

  • Terra

    Thanks for the excellent advice. The groundhog was coming under my new fence from his den on the other side, under my neighbor’s shed. I got him/her with a head of lettuce too brown for me to eat. I wedged rocks and positioned the trap so when exiting the hole on my side of the fence he had no where to go but into the trap. He ate all the lettuce.

  • Mary

    While living in Michigan a few years ago, my husband and I had a terrible problem with groundhogs in our yard. Bought a trap, and used BREAD. They love Bread! We caught many and relocated them.

  • Joey

    I have about a 30 lb. ground hog and three or four small ground hogs, probably 10 lb. each. They are living in the haymow of an old dicrepid barn. The mow is about half full of old straw and there are about twelve den holes facing in all directions. I have tried sliced apples in my trap but I live on a farm and there is a couple spots near the barn with spilt corn piles. Any ideas?

  • Dakota Dalton

    I followed your recommendation regarding placing the trap adjacent to the burrow. I live in a townhouse commmunity in Baltimore and could not be sure of the burrow location, but I placed the trap, loaded with various greens and apple pieces, beside my deck. The following morning the groundhog was caught. What a beast! I relocated it to a meadow where it ran off as though it was late for dinner. Thanks for the sage advice!

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Joey, just fill the openings of the holes in with a bit of dirt and watch to see which ones get opened back up. Then you’ll know which burrows are active and set your traps right there as described in the article above.

  • Kenny Point

    You are very welcome Dakota. Glad that it worked for you and thanks for visiting this site and returning to share your success.

  • Francesca

    I live in a very wooded area. A groundhog invades my garden sporadically, but when he does, it’s devastating. I’d like to trap him, but there is no way to discover where his burrow is–there’s nothing but forest all around. Any suggestions on trap placement? Thanks.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Francesca, if you can’t locate the burrow or the trails that the groundhog is using then you can try trapping him where you see the most activity or damage to your garden.

  • Joanne aka Bill Murray

    We had at lest 4 babies and two adults running from our two sheds to the neighbor’s decks and sheds on either side of us, at least that’s what we thought. There were at least a dozen of them. Exterminators want $100 PER groundpig, so Havahart trap was the only way to go. I set the trap right outside the hole under the shed, when I would see them enter the shed, I put a smoker I purchased from our local hardware store, and wham right out of the hole and into the trap.

    Now one year we were dealing with a bad drought, monster groundpig went under the larger shed where we keep the tractor, 80 gallons of gasoline and the gas line runs from the street to the pool right under that shed. I had only one smoker left, ran and lit it with the trap set, didn’t realize the pine needles had blown under that shed and over the old split rails my dh left back there and pvc pipe? I see not smoke but 15′ flames coming out the side of the shed — holy crap. Running for the hose, dh sees me as he’s at the kitchen sink getting a glass of water, runs out the door and sees what is going on. ‘OMG, YOU’RE GOING TO BLOW THE WHOLE FREAKING NEIGHBORHOOD UP FOR A STUPID GROUNDHOG!”

    So, Bill Murray has NOTHING on meeeeeeeeeeee. My method works every time! Were you all aware these suckers climb? Before the previous incident I was on my hands and knees weeding, when I looked up and see a groundpig looking me straight in the eye from the top of the fence munching on mulberry leaves. The little shit didn’t go through the gaping hole in the fence (where another trap was set) no, he climbed up and over!

    If you are going to use a Havahart trap and put it along a path they take don’t make the other brutal mistake I made 2 years ago. I had mother and daughter black labs, always check the trap so not to leave a critter in there in extreme heat and suffer, mother lab was waiting waaaaay back giving me a look that I found out to mean, you big dummy look what you’re doing. As I went to lift the trap which had shrubs on both sides, the daughter lab charged the cage when I said out loud, this feels heavier than a bunny or as I bent over to see from the side what it was — WHAM dog and Joanne got sprayed by the first skunk in 16 years right in the face.

    Traveling 2 weeks later through mushroom stinky fields of Kenett Square, younger son was complaining about the mushroom/manure smell. “What smell? All I can smell is skunk, it’s still embedded in my nostrils!” So—fair warning and that was with an empty trap!

    Oh, btw, their territory is 10 miles — if you’re going to release, release them 10 miles away or they’ll come back! I found out by spray painting one critter’s backside with orange glow paint, it’s true–they come back! Happy gardening!

  • Well I have had a promblem with groundhog last year at the end of the season . Now he or she is back and I am gonna go crazy, I was out there today to see if I could cover the trap and catch this you know what and guess what there is about 4 babies now OMG THIS HAS GOTTA STOP!!! They have eaten all my plants and I live to garden. I’m gonna try your method , story to follow…..

  • Robyn

    I was reading that the lifespan of a groundhog would most likely be about 6 years. If the young leave the fold and there is only one groundhog per burrow, will the problem of one groundhog disappear after this time? We are seeing the same old guy now for about 4 years…….I don’t have a garden but a septic system which is within 20 feet from his hole, that is my only worry if he might burrow around and do any kind of damage to the pipes from the septic bed. Any advice on this, or should we just let time take care of his lifespan and leave our worries behind.

  • Flinty76

    Since they may have a disease or ticks or whatever I think I’ll trap ’em but I sure won’t have a heart with what happens to them when I get them. It’ll be a one way trip for them for sure.

  • Dan

    Why relocate them? so they can go pose a problem for someone else and their garden. I don’t think groundhogs serve any purpose in life but to wreck lawns, dig holes and eat up gardens. I get out my gun and shoot them. That is the best way to get rid of them. I haven’t shot any in a few years and now they are back. got 3 under the shed and 3 more down in the hedgerow. I knocked a bunch of years ago when we first moved here, and they seemed to disappear for a while. Now I need to get rid of them again.

  • Debbie

    My mom had a family of 4 ground hogs living under her shed. We were able to trap 2 of them and relocated them but the other 2 won’t bite they avoid the traps. Any suggestions? We have moved the traps many times. Been doing this for at least a month or so… Any help would be great! Thanks

  • Neli Martinez

    Please help!!!

    For 12 years I have been struggling with a groundhog or many of them. I live close to downtown in a busy street and they live somewhere in my front yard, maybe under the front porch. I see several holes in the flower garden and one on the grass. I am frustated because I built a interlock drive bricks and one part of it is sinking, needless to say that also because of the holes it makes in my flower garden. I closed the hole and try to fix the interlock bricks, but did not succeed. I did everything you can imagined to try to catch these creatures, nothing worked. Last year I bough the Havahart trap and when I read your article I decided to try it out.
    It has been 2 days since I set up the trap. The first day the intelligent animal came in and ate the apples before the trap and did not go any further. Today I checked and saw the trap down. I thought I got him, the trap was down, but nobody there, what disappointment I felt when I saw it empty and half the apple gone. I now know that he doesn’t like carrots, only apples. Do you have any other suggestions in how you catch it? Or should I keep trying day after day. Should I closed the other holes in the garden? I am running out of patience and time. Please help. Thank you. Neli

  • Dan

    I have flooded a few out of ones that were in holes. Try filling in some of the holes and put a hose in the last hole open, they will drown or come out into the trap make it so they can only go into the trap.

    The best thing for a groundhog is a bullet. it sounds harsh but they are animals that serve no purpose than to destroy lawns, gardens, patios.
    From what I see, they are no real benefit to the eco-system.
    I let some of mine live because they are far from the house and buildings and they aren’t damaging anything as they live in the hedgerow of the property.

    I think unless you can relocate them to an area where no one else lives close, they should be exterminated.

  • Hi Dan

    I could not kill animals, even if they are a nuisance as this. This does not mean that hasn’t crossed my mind. I am so frustrated with these groundhogs that is no joke. If they lived in my backyard I could accept them, but because I am afraid of the house foundation, I worry what kind of damage it can cause.

    Thank you for your input and I hope I can catch them and relocate it very soon. I heard from my neighbour today that it was a squirrel who ate the apples and trigged the trap. After that I went and closed all the holes and I am going to wait and see how many holes will be open again so I can start the trap.

  • Miss B

    Thanks for this advice. I have a very hungry woodchuck. He ate all my broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber leaves, demolished my wax beans, lettuce, pumpkin leaves. He was kind enough to leave the peppers, onions, rhubard and tomatoes. I first put out owls, didn’t work. Bought the hav a hart electric fence, didn’t work. Bought the hav a hart trap that has the two way entry, some how he/she got the bait, set off the trap but got away. I am going to try the one door entry and set it by his hole (he’s living under our garage, however I am shocked the entrance is only about 2-3 inches big??)

  • Bridgette

    HI, Everyone.

    Not sure what is under my house… i say its a ground hog… last summer had to go under my crawlspace for some work to be done well load and behold i was on my hands and knees then all of a sudden the ground started to sink.. i looked around then seen a hole the first thing i thought of was SNAKEEE (being a girl) i got out of there kinda fast… but now this year i have holes on the side of my house in the dirt i have a some what big one and just today i found three more little ones next to the big one… i have a trap out for about a week… what ever it is does not like dog food or wet cat food or cantelope or peanut butter so today i have put some apples in there cut up of course now its time to wait tomorrow going to get some carrots and lettuce and see what happens, wish me luck

  • Sara

    We have a groundhog that is climbing over the garden fence to dine.This groundhog is coming from the neighbors shed.Neighbors have no garden,and do not want us messing around their yard trying to get an animal that does not bother them. We are in the city.What is the best location for the trap if you can not put it right by the burrow? Also,are the animal traps from Harbor Freight just as good as the havahart traps?

  • Kenny Point

    Good luck Bridgette… hope you catch him!

  • Vanita

    I thought my flowers were not taking root because of the unusually hot weather that hit the northeast extremely early. I had been watering them night and day everyday to no avail. Then one day I pulled up to my suburban townhome to find a big fat groundhog eating the flowers along my walkway. I found his burrow right under my neighbor’s front steps! I was trying to use the Critter Ritter granuals and sprays and they worked temporarily (until a good rain). I bought a Havahart trap and sat it out on Wednesday right in my flowerbed, baited it with bananas and left both doors open. That groundhog had a ball! He climbed up on my flowerbed wall searching for more. Then I knew I had him. We gave him what he was looking for. On Thursday night we put more bananas in and closed one door leaving the trap door open. Sure enough on Friday when he came out for his evening feeding…bam! Caught! We released him the next morning in a park 30 minutes away. I only wished I had used the trap a long time ago before my garden was ravaged. I can’t say I’ve missed that critter running across my front steps and sitting out on my lawn all relaxed as though HE were paying the mortgage! LOL

  • I have been the victim of a Groundhog for quite awhile. I saw him last year, but he was not yet established at my home at that particular time. He actually took the time to check us out last year and then he decided that our shed would make the perfect den for him. I have a small garden located behind my shed and you quessed it, he was in hog heaven. He had several entrances from the shed to the garden. When I would check my garden daily, he would run back into his den as if to mock me. I purchased a BB gun to no avail, I set off Foggers, at every entrance trying to guide him out, but that proved useless also. I took my husband’s advice and purchased a trap ($52.00 in cost) but it was worth it, after the second day, quess what was looking at me the next morning trapped, confined and locked in the trap. I was so happy that I now had the upper hand and I told that little rascal as much. Trapping works, and I am a believer today,I have no carcass to worry about removing, just relocating the rascal.

  • Dan

    I got rid of one a few weeks ago and I think the rest got the scared because I don’t see any of them anymore. Either they are hiding or they moved out and found new homes. I trapped the one and got rid of it with fresh cut apples in a have a heart trap. They can get nasty in a cage, so wear thick gloves when picking up the cage.
    Frances, if you live in the country, the carcass is gone in no time. I got a few raccoons the last few weeks too but I chose to release them.

  • Mattemma

    I wrote a while ago about my mom’s groundhog only to have one get into my chain-link fenced yard the other day.It dug under the fence in multiple areas,and it also chewed apart the welded wire chain-link. What strong teeth! I bought a 1089 havahart trap at home depot the next day, and had him in the trap by 9pm that night. I placed the trap by one entry point, and blocked all the others. I added grass and leaves to the bottom of the cage. I baited with cantelope, banana, and green bean. I covered the cage sides with whatever weeds I could find. And finally I put logs along the sides to guide it right into the cage. The cage held up fine. I have read raccoons will tear them apart. I did add some zip ties to the release door to prevent escape. I will keep the trap out to catch other groundhogs, raccoons, and possums.

  • Maureen

    Hi…In just the last week we noticed we have a “cute” groundhog. He lives under our deck which means we can’t see his hole. He came out today and enjoyed eating our flowers on the deck and also was sunbathing with his eyes closed. He did check the havahart trap but did not go in…I’m not sure where to put it. I do know he generally comes out of the center of the deck to feed on our flowers in the center of the yard where the flower garden is. Any thoughts? Maureen

  • Caleb

    These animals are NOT cute and cuddly like some have mentioned. We recently had one attack our dog and he will most likely be blind in one eye now. The only good solution is to relocate them to the end of a gun barrel.

  • Anne

    I set up a barrier so that the woodchuck would go directly into the trap which I filled with grass so it would not see the floor of the cage. I did this at night and by morning the trap was tripped and in it was a little raccoon. I gather the raccoon took over the holes. Previously for two days, I put my hose into the holes as there were two for 4 times over two days to flood the chambers and I hope it worked because I haven’t see a woodchuck since. I blocked the holes and hope that both the raccoons and woodchucks are gone. I still keep checking to be sure and see if there are anymore entrances. If the raccoons were in the hole then either they ate the woodchucks or they had left and took over the condo.

  • Anne

    My neighbor hired a pest control company to rid him of the woodchuck which burrowed two holes under my fence from his yard. Useless company because I knew the critter/s are underneath my lawn so I took control myself. Set the trap close to the main entrance and block both sides with large stones, even large boxes and do it in the evening when they don’t come out. The path of least resistance will lead them or one right into the trap and it is best to put grass clippings on the bottom of the trap so they think it is the lawn. Anyways, it worked for me but I caught a raccoon instead. When I hosed the holes many times, I may have sent them on their way whatever because I haven’t seen on since but I still keep checking for holes.

  • Anne

    I checked in the early morning because that is when they come out for food. On should have been one since but I still ………..

  • Anne

    Also, the holes from our neighbor’s side were dug directly under to our so called hill billy shed my husband put together a few years ago to store some junk and I won’t be surprised once we tear it down soon that a family of woodchucks might be greeting us. I will worry about it then and if they are smart they will move on. They hibernate in Oct. so the sooner we tear the shed down, the sooner we will see what awaits us.

  • Ed

    One real good reason not to consider relocation is that in our region groundhogs have been proven to be leading carriers of rabies. In my days I have seen all kinds of groundhog behaviors but one hot July afternoon I was strolling through Antietam Battlefield National Park Cemetery and from among the gravestones a groundhog came strutting right at me and was snarling savagely. At first I was shocked and then quickly back-pedaled. He kept charging for quite a ways. Strange.
    The other good reason not to relocate; Who is going to be the lucky
    recipient? A private land-owner or a state park? This is dumping your problem on somebody else because it is unpleasant to terminate a
    living creature. Life is full of moral dilemmas.

  • Earle

    The relocation is a problem. I’ve trapped several and I was relocating them to a Land Trust/trailhead about four miles down the mountain from where I live and they came right back – harder to trap. There is a city-owned nature preserve which is at least ten or twelve miles from where we live. I’ve also trapped eighteen raccoons. I’ve turned them over to Animal Control for euthanasia. I had heard that they’d stopped taking wild animals, but they loaned a trap to a neighbor, which was the old routine, about a year ago, so I’m going to check with them. On some of the larger raccoons, I lost them with the city Hav-a-Heart, because the gate would hit them in the butt, and they’d just back out – with the bait. I ordered the largest H-a-H, and that stopped. On the question of bait, it’s different strokes for different groundhogs. They have different food preferences just like primates. Just keep rotating baits. We’ve caught them with every bait mentioned in this thread.

    One point which is a bit depressing, but I need to mention – once you have a tunnel system established on your property, you become very attractive to other groundhogs, when they’re roaming to find territory. The scent is there and they settle into their new homes. I’ve tried plugging their entrances, but they dig around the plug or make new entrances. I think some returns are of offspring, who remember the old home, but that’s not the entire story. We’ve gone 2-3 years without them, and, then, an immature one will pop up, as has just happened to us…

  • Upen

    Hi – I caught the bloody b*****ard a few mins ago and was all rejoicing when I suddenly saw that the trap was empty. This was a one sided trap. not sure how the damn thing escaped. I am guessing it got away from the release side by pushing against the metal frame. I tied it up with rope securely and set it back in the same place. Question – once bitten twice shy? Or will he bite the bait again? thanks

  • Earle

    Caught the latest iteration this afternoon, this time with cantaloupe, which, according to Hava-Heart’s website is their highest-recommended bait. I watched him eat up all the melon surrounding the trap and in front of the trap, look into the trap at the slices in the back, and then go in for his treat. Cantaloupe is my new favorite bait. I smeared it all over the entrance to the trap and along the low retaining wall leading to the trap. I left a trail of cantaloupe along the top of the wall leading to the trap, using a melon ball scooper…

  • Lisa

    I caught a groundhog a few weeks ago and was happy to see the animal control officer take him away. Well to my surprise guess who is back. This time I noticed two holes. One next to my deck which I am guessing is the exit hole as there is not a pile of dirt outside of it…and next to my bilco door there is another hole along the foundation that has a huge pile of dirt next to it. I dont think the holes are connected but was wondering if you have any ideas on what I can fill the holes with to prevent the animal from coming back. On Monday I plan to call Animal Control again to have them drop off another trap.

  • Earle

    Unless the burrow’s uninhabited, nothing will succeed in plugging the hole. They’ll just dig around it. After I was sure I was rid of the existing population, I’ve plugged the openings with Quikcrete, which seems to work for a while. However, when they start ranging out in late summer, looking for another home, I’m not sure there’s anything to keep them from smelling and sensing the existing tunnels. Most animal control departments euthanize the animals. If you’re sure you have the same one back, then they played a dirty trick on you and just let him out nearby. Speaking personally, I can only tell them apart by size. You may have acquired another, maybe a sibling, of about the same size…

  • Mattemma

    Was out in the yard the other day(afternoon) and what do I see roaming my far back yard? Yup,another groundhog. I guess he only had one way in/out and I was blocking it. I gave chase and caught it by hand. Not something I would recommend,because if he could have bit me those 1 inch front teeth would have done damage.I was however very happy to take care of this right then and there. I have read people marking animals with paint when they relocate,and this way they will see if it is the same to return. I would rather just dispatch,but I understand for some relocation is the prefered choice.Mark them and see if they come home.

  • Lisa

    Earle…the animal control officer told me he would take the groundhog I captured a few weeks back several miles away so that it would not end up back at my house…so I am hoping that is what happened. You might be right that this might be a sibling of the other one….strange that it is the same size and look though. Last night he/she did not show its face…no eating of my grass. Hum…wonder where it went. I read that you can put dirty cat litter in the holes to ward them away from coming back…has anyone heard of that? Figure I will wait for animal control to drop off the trap and make sure the animal is gone before I plug up the holes.

  • dan

    Why bother the animal control officer for an oversized rat. Just poison them or shoot them. and be done with it. Since I killed one of the ones living under our shed, I think the rest up and left because I haven’t seen one of them out in a month since I did this. I don’t know why, either they are coming out at night, which is highly unlikely or they just want to stay inside, either way. I don’t see them anymore.
    I bought my own trap since and dealt with it myself. Animal control should be for dangerous animals, since it uses local tax payers money to pay him each time he goes out for a call.

  • Earle

    Lisa, depending on the AC’s definition of “several,” you may very well hae the same animal back. The first one we trapped, I only took about 1.5 miles away, into the state park we live adjacent to, but I got lucky that time, because I trapped her just before hibernation time, so she didn’t return. Then I started relocating them about 3-4 miles away to a Land Trust parking lot, about half-way down the mountain we live on. However I read that they can range up to 10 miles, so I now take them to the parking area of a city-owned nature preserve, which is a bit over 12 miles from our house. I don’t like to dump them near anyone’s house. Tell the AC guy that you’ve heard they can return from ten miles and watch his face. Then tell him you’d like it released more than ten miles away. Try cantaloupe for bait this time. They’re harder to trap a second time…

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the reply. I will be sure to tell the AC guy about the 10 mile rule. I was thinking I would take the animal for a long ride and drop off at a state nature area just to make sure there is no way this thing was finding its way back to my home. (take matters in my own hands) I will let you know how I make out once I get the trap on Monday. Off to the farm market to get a cantaloupe. Thanks. The first time I trapped the animal I used grapes and cherries. Enjoy your Sunday.

  • Marcia Christensen

    Catch and release. This is the motto for Sebago Lake. The little groundhog was released this a.m. on the back side of Douglas Mtn. He scampered merrily down in the woods and will enjoy a beautiful view on a warm sunny day. He was adorable but didn’t smell so nice.

  • Upen

    Success! The Have a Hart trap & Cantaloupe worked wonders. I had the hog in a day! Called the animal control to have it relocated, but they euthanized it instead (apparently a change in policy). Poor thing died in a couple of mins after being injected. I never thought I will be said see the little fat fellow die!

  • Earle

    Arghh… Here, they take them off to the animal shelter to kill them…

  • Billy Bob

    I have trapped them for years. They like to dig under the concrete floors in my buildings and near the underground gas lines. I am not crazy about it but I just use conabear traps and be done with it. It kills them instantly. I live in a farming area and the farmers don’t need anymore rodents digging holes for cows and horsed to trip on or crop damage. I wish I could figure a way to groundhog proof the floors. I was thinking of a rip rap stone strip around the building. The stones might be to big for them to dig through.

  • Carol

    Hi. Thanks so much for your suggestions. We did catch our hog with the Haveahart trap, but am wondering how to fill in the hole of her burrow as it is running under our front porch and I am afraid our roof over it may cave in because of the burrow. If using concrete, how do you pump it in enough to go down into the burrow?????

    I have checked everywhere and no one seems to address this. I would be most grateful for your help.


  • Dan

    Billy Bob,

    After you pour your slab, dig a trench around the perimeter 2′ deep. and install galvanized thick heavy gauge wire mesh(or fencing) with small square design, cut strips of it 2′ wide and put it vertically in the trench right next to the concrete slab, then just backfill the trench with dirt.
    they will try to dig but they can’t get under it and they will find another spot. the best thing for a ground hog is a bullet or a trap that kills them.
    they are no good to anyone and really serve no purpose.

    Carol, you need to dig and expose as much of the burrow as possible and see how deep it goes and if it’s going to bring down your porch, does the porch have a continuous wall or footing around it? if so, you are probably ok. if it has pier footings and they dug under them for some reason then you need to open it up and pour concrete in there.

  • Lisa

    Well after two weeks of trying I finally caught the groundhog yesterday and he was taken away today. Grapes did the trick. This one was alittle feisty…not happy about being trapped. I filled in the two holes he left and am hoping that he does not have anymore family that I will need to trap.

  • Shane James

    After reading this about a month ago and finally listening to what I read… two opossums later I finally caught my groundhog this morning. My mother-in-law is in town and staying at my house called me and told me. 15 minutes later she called me and said that he has gotten out… chewed his way through the wire. HELP WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THIS THING OUT OF MY YARD? He is living under my shed.

  • Earle

    Wow! Was it a HavaHart? The first one we ever trapped was huge. We let her hang around and become semi-tame before we learned of the damage they can cause. (The west foundation started sinking.) She tried to chew her way out but she couldn’t faze it. We finally started putting the trap on a piece of plywood, because, even though they couldn’t get out, they still managed to do a lot of damage to the turf underneath the trap…

  • Shane James

    I am not sure what type of cage it was. It was borrowed from my neighbor. I am going to try to find a HavaHart trap today on my lunch break. How long should I wait (if I should) before I reset a trap? Will it even try to enter a trap again?

  • Earle

    I’d wait until I got a good trap and start baiting it with cantaloupe, making a trail into the trap and don’t set the trap for a few days – just let it eat the cantaloupe, and, then, set it after it’s started entering the trap to eat the melon…

  • bridgette

    ok well i had the trap and i used everything…to lettuce..fruits…veggys..what ever is under my house dosn’t like any of these things…(i still thinks its a snake) lol….un sure how to catch one under the house that or maybe a lot of moles i have no idea beings whatever it is won’t go near the traps..but the holes under the house are big lol iam not going under there…have no idea what iam going to do..any ideas?

  • Dan

    Caught a groundhog with the LARGE hav-a-hart trap from home depot yesterday (using canteloupe)… neighbor called to tell me at 5:00pm that I had him, got there at 7:00pm, and he bent the trap inward (including the LOCK BAR) and escaped.. Hav-a-Hart traps are WEAK!!!!!!! I re-inforced the trap and reset it… but I fear he may be spooked of the trap now….
    He also managed to eat the huge pile of canteloupe i left in the trap before leaving….

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Dan, that’s pretty weird… I have never had anything that I’ve trapped even put a dent in a havahart trap and can’t imagine a groundhog bending one inward. Maybe they are constructing them from a different material or you have a super groundhog on your hands. I would reset the trap and believe that its interest in the bait will prevail over any fear of the trap.

  • Bob

    Help!!!! I have 2 or more groundhogs under my kitchen crawl space which opens up to full basement. Sealed basement window, their access, and bought Havahart “easy set” trap. Got one right right away. BUT, have reset the trap daily for the last 12 days. Half the time the food, apple, is gone and trap not tripped, the other times the food is gone and the trap is tripped. Ought to call it the “easy escape” trap. I always inspect the trap but its OK. Trigger very sensitive.

  • Earle

    Bob, that’s a good one. The only thing I can think of is that some of the bait might have gotten underneath the pedal, but that wouldn’t be every time. One trick I’ve used in the past is to place the bait in an empty cat food can and then wired the can in one of the back corners, and this has caught a few who were skilled “burglars.” I know you say your trigger is sensitive, but my trap is quite old and the plating has worn off where it curves up. I put a bit of WD-40 and that helps to make it slide more easily and the smell doesn’t seem to bother them. Good luck!

  • Dan

    Bob- you need to bend the small trigger arm so that it locks into the hole… I had to do this with mine because it was tripping too easily…
    now it is perfect…

    I shored up the back door on my trap with some wire, and have caught 2 ground hogs so far… Hav-a-hart also offered to send me a “non-collapsible” trap which does not have the lock-bar problem… I have to give them points for offering to help!

    I think the collapsible one works ok if you take the time to reinforce the back door…

  • Rachel

    Anyone have suggestions for bait to attract groundhogs and rabbits, but not squirrels? We trapped one groundhog, at least one more to go and lots of bunnies. But we keep finding squirrels in the trap.

  • Earle

    Wow! That’s a new one, Rachel. We live in an area swamped with squirrels, but we’ve yet to catch the first. We’re up to 7 or 8 groundhogs, 17 raccoons, and 2 or 3 possums, but no squirrels – caught our cat a couple of times. Of course, for the coons, we used cat food, which wouldn’t attract squirrels, but the cantaloupe we’ve had the most groundhog luck with hasn’t attracted squirrels. You’re not baiting with nuts, are you? 🙂

  • mikechick

    I have been using a hava heart trap with sliced apple for years. I was telling an elderly farmer a funny story about trying to get a mad hog out of the trap. He told me “kid your gonna get bit”.(which i almost did) “Instead just put about 6 or 8 pieces of Double Bubble gum at each hole” I had visions of a bubble blowing hog in my yard. Apparently hogs cant digest bubble gum and it kills them. I tried it and the gum disappeared. The hog was never seen again and the damage stopped. Give it a try. It was a cheap easy solution. Gotta love the farmers!

  • Julie

    Help! I live in a normal residential area. I have now had a groundhog in my engine compartment twice this spring. Tell tale sign is when my dog FREAKS out on my car. I have searched my propery which is fairly small. No holes anywhere. Can’t really go super inpecting neighbors property. How to I get rid of this thing before he chews up the wiring in my engine??? I have a trap, but where do I put it??? Never have I seen the thing except inside my car and then when I flush him out he just takes off…. Any ideas?? Most neighbors are cool, but the one to my direct north is lazy and his lawn gets mowed maybe twice a year. Probably lives there, but he’s definately not the type to let me check.

  • Neli

    I have something to share with you. Peanut butter is the best for catching the groundhog. I tried everything said in your comments and nothing had worked until today. Unfortunately, this morning someone driving in my street decided to transpass my property and release the groundhog after I was trying for 13 years to catch it. They call Human Society on me saying that I was using cruelty to the animal. I was completely upset with these people interfering in my life. They allowed the groundhog out of the cage and the poor thing was so frightened that chimbed a tree and the crows started hurting him/her. This to me is more cruelty than I did to try to catch him and want to release in a conservation area. I spent the whole morning talking to the police, Human Society, Wildlife person. To my surprise the last person I spoke to with a custodian wildlife credentials said that I was cruel and if I looking for sympathy I would not on get from get her. The couple who released the animal was right, what I did was cruel and I asked, how could I remove this animal from my destroyed property. She said that this is not time to do that and that the law says that I can remove only 1 km away from my house. At the same breath she said that I could kill him/her if they are destroying my property, but not move them to a different habitat, it would be cruelty. I am very confused about it. Is your site canadian or american? I really don’t how I am going to get this animal. Please help! Thank you.

  • Neli


    To my surprise the last person I spoke to was a wildlife custodian and she said that I was cruel and if I was looking for sympathy, I would not get from her. She said that the person who released the animal was right in doing so and I was cruel. Some people are insane, my goodness.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Neli, thanks for the tips about using peanut butter as a bait. I wouldn’t be pleased if someone took it upon themselves to trespass and released a pest that I had trapped but it is important to not leave an animal trapped for long periods of time. There are differences of opinion with some believing it is more humane to trap, others would rather shoot them, and I guess some think that wildlife should be allowed to destroy crops and property. This site is based out of the USA but there are visitors and comments from all over the world. Good luck in solving your groundhog problem… there’s also the bubble gum option that you will find discussed here but that could well be the least humane answer for groundhog troubles.

  • Steve

    One thing I have noticed is the the gauge wire used on Hav-A-Hart traps in the last 5-10 years. They have gone to cheaper wire. Older traps are much heavier gauge than new ones.

    Thanks for all the tips. I am going to get my pig this weekend.

  • Earle

    I’ve noticed exactly the same, Steve. I actually backed my truck into my old trap, bending and breaking the welds on the rear. I straightened the wires out and caught one hog since. They’re so frail now, I would have totaled it…

  • I set out a havahart trap and camouflaged it – I think I had the groundhog in there last night but I didn’t have the back panel locked down right and the back panel had been pulled inside = will a groundhog come back a second time = I rebaited and camouflaged it again and set it right this time –

  • Shawn Wilson

    I have a groundhog that found its home under the front porch and he needs to go ASAP. I have trapped a opossum on an apple. I put organic carrots, bananas and apples covered in peanut butter and he came to the entrance to the trap and did some sniffing. I moved the trap to the opening of the den, placed cinder blocks to make a trail to the trap, but nothing yet. Yesterday was the topper. I came to the front door and the little bastard was lying in the driveway sunning himself. He has not been in the newly planted garden yet, but will catch a bullet if it does. I would like to release him back into the wild but he is really pissing me off. I call him bin laden and he will be caught or shot dead, the choice is up to him. I am thinking about using a smoke bomb and put the trap up to the porch and wait till it pushes him out into the trap.


  • Mehrooz

    I used hard-boiled eggs as bait and caught two groundhogs very easily! They really fall for it! Hope this helps! Good luck to all groundhog catchers!

  • margaret

    At first we had one groundhog under the shed, thought it was kinda cute and left it alone thinking he was a bachelor.. well the mail order bride showed up and now it’s a family of six! Bought the havahart and tried carrots- the babies using it as aplayground climbing up and down the thing- at one point they used it to reach a shrub to munch on! Now I put cantelope in there and my fingers are crossed, but I have to do this 6 times! So far they are happy with the clover but they have been getting closer and closer to my house and it’s just a matter of time till they discover the garden..

  • margaret

    One down! use cantelope

  • Matt

    TSC sells a large and small cage for $35. I have used a havahart from Home Depot and it was $45. I covered my cage and placed it in locations the groundhog dug under our fence. I even caught one by hand once. Neighbor has one and if it comes into my yard I will dispatch it quickly before it damages my gardens.

    I used zip ties to ensure the back of the trap would not open. I also put logs on either side of the trap. In some states it is illegal to relocate animals,but you are allowed to humanely kill them.Better just to dispose of them quickly. Once called AC about coons damaging the garden,and was told to get rid of my garden. Do what needs to be done.

  • Earle

    Cantaloupe has worked for me when nothing else has. The last one I caught, I could watch the process. I’d laid a trail of pieces leading into the trap, which was up on a landscape railroad tie. He ate his way along and stopped when he got to the trap. Finally, he went part-way in and ate one of the pieces in the “vestibule,” and stopped again, studying the two pieces I’d wired to the back corners. He couldn’t resist, and “SLAM!” BTW, it’s not so much a problem with the groundhogs, but, for the biggest raccoons, I had to buy the largest size of Havaheart. The big coons rumps stick up so far in the air that the smaller trap’s door would catch on it and they could back out…

  • Gen

    On Sunday, I sat at the dinner table with my parents as they were trying to figure out the best thing for the new cages they got to catch the groundhog that’s been making holes everywhere in the neighborhood. I read upon a thread somewhere that Broccoli and carrots would do the trick. We put a few feet from each other leading into the cage. That was Monday. Today is Tuesday, and BOOM groundhog was caught, and my Dad brought it out 30 minutes into the suburbs – and is now the neighborhood hero!!! So he wanted specifically me to come back here and post how he got it (He’s not very technology inclined) so here I am, passing on the good news like a disciple!

  • wendy

    does the trap go at the exit or entrace site? how do you know which one they go in and which one they come out of? also-what do you use to repair the big holes they’ve made? love your advice!

  • Earle

    Wendy, I’ve had pretty good luck sealing them up with PLENTY of Quikcrete. I tried sliding a heavy steel plate over one and they just tunneled around it…

  • Tom

    I have friends from West Africa who think it’s a shame to “waste good food” trapped groundhogs, raccoons, and possums. They have asked me to bring them any of these I catch in my Havahart trap. What are the laws pertaining to this in most places in America? I live in the city limits of a a mid-sized town.

  • Joel Harrison

    Good advice, all of this works. I have an issue that surpassing me having a heart. When I catch the groundhogs I have they are out of the have-a-heart within half an hour or so. Short of watching the trap to make sure I can secure the other side there is not much I can do to humanely move these animals. These guys are a strong breed, they run, pull, bite, dig until they find a way or make a way out of my traps.

    Next best thing? Banana with rat poison in the trap? We have two cats and a dog so kill traps and open poison are out of the question. Only have a bb gun and that’s less humane than a hammer. They have made a home under the support wall for the garage so one way or another these guys have to go.

  • Earle

    Wow! I’ve trapped somewhere around seven or so, plus a much larger number of raccoons, and none have gotten out yet. I guess the consensus that the older traps are sturdier must be accurate…

  • Joel Harrison

    Very likely. Caught and lost two more today, it’s incredibly frustrating. I’ll be on the lookout for a stronger trap but until then advice is appreciated.

  • Earle

    Joel, are they breaking and spreading the welds apart, biting through the wire itself or what?

  • Joel Harrison

    They attack the wire and do their best to bite through but so far have done minimal actual damage to the cage. They have (from the outside) pulled the trigger (bar) that runs under the step from its place to just hanging outside the trap. Kind of like an f-you for messing with them.

    They’re going in, tripping the trigger, then flipping out. Eventually (and they seem to have learned this from being caught a few times) they run head first into the door and pop it up. That’s how they’re getting out. Figured this out when I was putting a trap+groundhog into the trunk of my car and he b-lined for the door popping it just outside of my car. Better out than in I guess. I now check the trap with a wire tie in my pocket but they’ve been trapped and gotten out every time I have nabbed one (4 or 5 times). Only know this because all the food inside will be gone (bananas work best) and the trap will be a few feet from where I initially placed it.

  • E

    Joel, I looked at my trap again and a headlong charge would not work. The door is triangulated so that that force generated linearly against the door would just shut it tighter. An animal would have to be strong enough to destroy the wire. We simply must not have the same traps. I had problems with some large raccoons when I was borrowing city Animal Control HVH traps. With their big rear ends, they could get in far enough to get the bait and hold the door partially open with their butts, in order to back out. When I bought the largest size HVH from Northern Tools, that stopped. I have had one “mystery” escape when the animal (coon) managed to turn the trap upside down…

  • Joel Harrison

    It seems like it would do the same on my trap, the bottom of the door snaps in to a bar that takes some force to pop it back out (even by hand knowing that is how to open it). I wouldn’t have believed they were strong enough to run through it if I hadn’t seen it happen right in front of my eyes. I’ve purchased a double sided trap that seems stronger and larger. I’m hoping this will take care of any escape artist.

    In terms of your mystery escape, the groundhogs will hit and pull my trap from the outside to move the food to the edges and pull it through. It seems as though they’ve gotten in and escaped except that the trap has moved and the grass around has been torn up. It’s very likely the same thing that happened to you. Since they’ve figured out the trap shuts they’ve just been dragging it around stealing food from the outside. I’m giving them a week or two to forget then setting the bigger trap.

  • Pingback: Gardening 202: The Groundhog War | Gardening Questions()

  • David

    I used a Havahart trap, and similar to Belle who posted in 2009, the groundhog escaped. It pulled the back door in until it could squeeze underneath the door. The locking bar was bent like a pretzel; the locking bar was installed by the instructions (inserted thru bottom holes on brackets, thru guide rings, and firmly hooked on the opposite side of the cage). The groundhog pulled hard enough on the door to such that the nonhook end of the bar was pulled out of the bracket hole and out of one of the guide rings on the door.
    Havahart should make the locking bar out of stronger stuff than soft wire.

  • Judith

    I have a large Groundhog living under our deck in the suburbs of a large city. I have baited a live trap with cantaloupe for two days now and have placed it at an opening where I have seen the Groundhog come out from under the deck a few times. So far I have not caught him or her. Any suggestions? I am worried that it will do damage to the foundation to our deck and home. Plus we put our almost 5 lb. Yorkie in our back yard on a dog lead at times and I am worried that the Groundhog will attack her and injure her. This Groundhog is much larger than our Yorkie and she will not back down from anything. She thinks she is much larger than what she is, as a lot of Terriers do. I want this Groundhog gone before it hibernates. We do not have the money to hire an exterminator.
    Any advice?

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Judith since you know where the groundhog is entering from I would block any other openings under the deck and then put up some type of simple barricade so that when it comes out from under the deck it has no where else to go except right into the trap.

  • Earle

    She can try that, but it’ll probably just dig around it. I’ve had better luck with cantaloupe than anything else, but nobody (or no animal) likes everything, so I’d try experimenting with some of the other fruits/veggies people have posted in this thread…

  • Matt

    I just caught my 3rd or 4th for this summer. Got the last one with some watermelon. Try placing the trap on their travel path. I had no luck putting it in front of my neighbor shed where the groundhog went in. I have mine placed in front of a hole that the groundhog dug under the chainlink fence.The groundhogs must smell the path created and use the same one.Their odor(musk) is very strong.I was covering the trap with grasses/weeds to make it like a tunnel so give that a try too.

  • Earle

    I usually also cover the trap. I also lay a trail of pieces of fruit leading to the trap…

  • kurt beck

    thanks you for your suggestions we tried lettuce tomatoes and finally the carrots did the trick we had to seal off all of the other holes and outlets and putting the trap right at the main hole made the difference ……
    they are finicky animals

  • joel harrison

    Bananas work incredibly well. The smell gets them there and they almost always hit the trigger. Even though they’ve continued to get out on me I have never failed to get them in the trap with a banana. I use half towards the front and half past the trigger. It seems to take them a while to eat the banana and in the time they spend eating it they’re more likely to set the trap off. For getting out I have seeded a wire tie through the bottom and the front door (while still open obviously). I stay close by for half an hour or so (early in the morning) and wait for the clink of the trap. I then have to run down and pull the wire tie to keep it shut. Sucks but I’m down to one and I think I’ll just let him go until he passes naturally, with no mate he’ll leave or at least not make more of those f’ing devils.

  • Earle

    I’d like to see pix of the “newer” traps. I’ve trapped well over a dozen and not one has been able to get out. I do have the largest trap – about 3′ in length. There have been some really big GHs in there spending all day long trying to get out. They must have modified/cheapened it down…

  • Marlene

    I have a trap set to catch this huge groundhog that has set up residense in my garden. I have read everyone’s tips and am hopeful that I catch him/her. What I need to know is when I take him for a ride, how far do I have to take him, so that he doesn’t come back?

  • Earle

    I started to be flippant and say “farther than you think.” It does really have to be several miles, or they will home back in. The whole question of release is complex. There are state laws and city ordinances in some places limiting where there can be a release. A large number of local governments which have animal control facilities will accept them for euthanasia. For people who are too squeamish for that, well, that’s their problem. We have been dealt so much misery and damage by them that I lost any inhibitions about sending them to Nirvana a long time ago. If release is all you can handle, I’d remember these points – not on private property (without permission from the landowner, which will not be forthcoming, since no one really wants them). If you think you want them to survive, deep woods won’t work, since they’re border/meadow beasts. If it’s good groundhog territory, they’ll have to fight it out with the resident of the territory, but, as I said, I’m unconcerned with their survival in any event. Anyway, I say that five miles is a minimum. I’ve looked it up before. If I can find it again, I’ll post an amendment…

  • Emma

    Check your relocation laws. Also, they are quite musky,so cover the cage for transport.I agree with atleast 5 miles.You can paint them to see if they will show up again.Mine get relocated to a deep slumber!

  • Marlene

    Thanks for the info Earle. We trapped the groundhog about 4 hours after my post. We took him for a long drive; probably about 20 km. Yes I am Canadian, therefore we don’t have the option of shooting it. I think that someone else may have dropped him off in our neighbourhood considering we live in a residential one. He would have to cross a 6 lane highway to get back to us, unless he is driven back.

  • Earle

    LOL! Yes, 20 km should do it, I would think. Sounds like you have the option of really open territory to drop him in. I’m in the SE US, medium-size city, SMA of around a million and where to drop them here is a problem. In the NE US and even the midwest, there’s just no good choices for drop zones. It’s not such a problem in the western US, but there are also not so many of the critters. I have no problem shooting them. I have a very high-powered German pellet gun which can dispatch one with a brain shot, but then the disposal of the carcass gets to be a problem. Here, animal control will still accept them for disposal so far, thank goodness…

  • Anne

    My neighbor had a resident groundhog that burrowed under my fence on their side and I did not want it invading my yard.
    I took a hose and for 15 minutes set it in the hole and blocked out the exit. I didn’t know if the rascal was in or not but most likely not but the next day, he walked past my front door sidewalk and I said to him/her, “I thought you left town.” I followed him and encouraged him to cross the street and not come back which he hasn’t. The hole is blocked on both ends and I haven’t seen the rodent since and that was last fall.

  • Anne

    The city should allow homeowners to have tranquilizer rifles to shoot these rodents and then dispose of them on their own but I don’t know what the laws are.

  • Vicky

    A groundhog has made a tunnel along the foundation of my house. I’m not sure how far or how deep it extends. Now that the groundhog has been removed what is the best way to fill the tunnel back up without compromising my foundation?

  • Earle

    Vickie, the only answer is concrete and more concrete…

  • Bruce

    In my state (MASS.) it is unlawfull to relocate live traped animals. I think that is because they may not be able to make a new home before winter and would suffer a slow death.

  • Earle

    Bruce, probably the law has less to do with the trapped animal and more to do with the fact that eastern MA is populated so heavily that it’s impossible to relocate a problem animal without it’s becoming someone else’s problem. I have absolutely no qualms about killing them, but then, there’s the problem of doing it legally inside city limits and disposal of the carcass, so, all in all, it’s simpler to haul them many miles away…

  • Heather

    We have a groundhog living under our shed. Now that it’s the middle of October (we are in Illinois), is it too late to trap and release him? I absolutely do not want to euthanize, just relocate him away from my home (and others’ homes) so he can live a healthy, happy life away from people. 🙂

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Heather, it probably is too late and too close to winter to trap and relocate if you want to give the groundhog any chance of surviving.

  • Earle

    I’m not sure I agree. By this time of year, it will have already added all the fat it needs for hibernation and these animals are furry excavators. It wouldn’t have time to dig the elaborate burrows they usually dig, but it would have plenty of time to dig a hibernation burrow. It should be dropped in a pasture or meadow. They aren’t deep woods creatures. We’ve gone a couple of years now without one, and our house sits atop a burrow, which successive groundhogs have recolonized. Oddly enough, global warming might help us, as extreme north Alabama is the southern fringe of their natural range. Alas, we live on a mountain top, which gives the effect of being located further north…

  • Jen

    Boy am I happy i came upon this website..never knew how destructive woodchucks could be..My husband & I have a double whammy..giant woodchuck & chipmunks..cant wait for spring to get them! Thanks to all your advice see it’s too late to trap..BUT am very scared because our side yard is in danger of collapse if we don’t do something..wish i knew which trap to buy for the woodchuck,but Idon’t know what to do about the chipmunks & our rock wall they are destroying the integrity of..the local mason wants $1600.00 to seal up the 2 sides of the wall..AAAACCCKK!! Will look around online for strong traps..any suggestions from anyone will be a great help..Merry Christmas & happy Holidays to all!!!

  • Earle

    Jen, I’ve had good luck with the larger sized Havahart. There’s a possibility that they’re not made as well as in the past, since some have reported in this thread that animals have been able to get out by damaging the trap. I remember one poster saying that his animal managed to bend both the gate and the locking bar. The one I have has a locking bar which is at least 3/16 galvanized rod and I don’t see how it could be bent from the inside, and I’ve trapped some big ones. Whether it’s for a larger animal or sturdier built, the only one I’d recommend would be the large Havahart with only one door. Our city loans out the smaller model, but I found that the larger animals could hold up the gate with their butts and escape. However, that was mostly just a problem with raccoons, rather than the chucks. BTW, the larger trap is available from Northern Tool and Amazon, price both places at about $90…

  • Brooke

    Thank you so much! We have at least 3 groundhogs tearing up our veggie garden and also biting the blooms off our plants and not even eating them!!! Gurrr! We have to get rid of them, but we didn’t way to kill them. So I saw this blog when I googled it and so I went to tracktor supply and got a less expensive trap (it was green) and put carrots, cut apples and grapes in there and barricaded the trap with boxes. I also cut som branches off our cedar tree and covered the trap so it wouldn’t show at all. Well we did all of that last night and sure enough, we have a groundhog in there this morning! Thanks for your help!!! 🙂

  • Claire

    So, I have not tried this yet, but was wondering if there is a distance that i should be dropping the critters off from my home, as well as; is it allowed to randomly deposit wild animals in parks? and will it attack me as i do so?

  • Earle

    Claire, I’d go at least 5-7 miles to be sure. You’d have to check the local/state laws where you are as to where to drop them. I’ve dropped mine in state parks, nature preserves and land trust lands. I would never drop one on private property. I don’t want my problem becoming someone else’s…

  • Betty

    Thank you for all this good information. We are going to set a live trap to catch a family of ground hogs. What do we do if we catch a skunk? How do you get it out of the trap without getting sprayed?

  • Nancy

    Wow…I am so grateful for this article. We have had a problem groundhog living under our shed for some time. He has been eating my greens and I was in danger of losing most of my garden to him. Thank you, Kenny!!! I followed the directions last night and this morning there he was. We had just purchased a different brand single door trap on sale and so used that along with cabbage, apple and cantaloupe. Thank You!

  • Stevo

    I’m a little confused as to why you would want to ‘relocate’ a groundhog. They are a nuisance and very destructive to crops, gardens, barn floors and their foundations, yards, etc. In Ohio they are everywhere… relocating them into another groundhog’s territory just pushes the critter into someone’s yard or property. I think it is more humane to relocate them to groundhog heaven rather than push them off on someone else… And I agree… Cantaloupe and apples work best as bait.

  • Earle

    First, I have absolutely no problem with people who think they should be euthanized. I’ve done that with raccoons and opossums. However, realistically, that creates a disposal problem for a lot of people. In this summer’s temperatures, leaving a carcass the size of a groundhog in the can until pickup day is not an option. Bury it, you say? Not every place has deep topsoil. I live on a mountain top, so, essentially, that is a big monolith covered with boulders and only a thin skein of soil. The last pet I buried, I rented a mini backhoe. That was the last I buried. The last one that died, I treated to cremation. Utility workers have difficulty finding enough dirt to drive a grounding rod up here. Backing up to the issue of killing them, unlike most, I grew up killing and eating the animals I killed, after giving them proper respect and thanks for their sacrifice, as taught me by my part-Cherokee father. Right now, I haven’t any desire to look up groundhog recipes, although they’re not that different from other creatures I’ve killed and eaten – and they’re probably healthier meat than most than can be bought in a supermarket. All this to say that no one should be looked down upon for deciding to relocate. Not every place is situated so that relocation is a burden to someone else. I have a handy nature preserve around 12-15 miles distant and that’s where mine now go. I don’t live in Manhattan (although I did in the past), but I do live in an area with an SMA of a million or so. I find it difficult to believe that, outside outside our densely-populated coasts, there are many areas where a groundhog can’t be properly relocated…

  • tom

    I too found this site and followed your instuctions. Caught one this morning. His disinterested friend was chomping away in our garden while watching his trapped buddy. He is next ! He was in the trap for just a few minutes because we checked earlier in the morning. It died while I was getting ready to trasnport it. Heart attack? Anyone have an idea? The trap did not hit, crush or touch it. It was rather odd. Thanks for your website and great advice.

  • Earle

    Now, that is interesting, Tom. Never had that happen before. Wild animals have been known to die from the shock of being trapped, but I’ve never yet heard of a groundhog doing that. Wonder if it were on its last legs from some other ailment? This year, so far, the groundhogs haven’t been the problem. With the prolonged drought, the deer have become a problem as in past drought years, eating the tomato plants and fruit for the moisture. We’ve had to fence and double fence. In fact, my wife called me to come an look yesterday at a deer licking the raised aluminum tripod of one of our sprinklers, trying to get the last of the moisture. In these dry summers, we seem to have fewer problems with the groundhogs. This week, we’re supposed to get some relief from the heat and the drought…

  • AnimalLover

    Caught my first groundhog! I put a live trap out by the deck where he’s been coming in and out and stocked it with yummy apple quarters. Very soon the apples began to rot but I thought oh well, we’ll see what happens. For days, nothing did. Then the live trap (still set) was moved up on to the deck so the lawn could be mowed. I figured I would re-bait and move the trap later. But the next day around noon BAM! I trapped that groundhog! He had walked into the trap on top of the deck to eat the rotten apples. Couldn’t believe my eyes! He loved those rotten apples, ate every slice! I felt bad for him so I gave him another fresh apple cut up and he even ate that one! Then I took him to a wildlife area about 20 minutes away and set him loose. I hope he is happy and still fat and sassy and away from other people to bother.

  • Thanks so much for posting this! We’ve been having problems with groundhogs tearing up our garden lately. Luckily we were able to get our hands on some good trapping supplies and finally got the problem taken care of.

  • Earle

    Charles, where are you with groundhogs awake at this time of the year? 🙂

  • Kristen

    Thank you for the awesome advice. Borrowed 4 traps from friends & neighbors (posted on Facebook to find who had some), baited them with cantaloupe (recommended by Havahart for groundhogs), and set them up near the mouth of the den (on our side of the fence where they had tunneled under from their den). In one week, we caught the following: 3 adult groundhogs, 6 baby groundhogs, and 2 raccoons. All were released at a nearby state game area (called animal control to find out where it was legal to release them). Think we have everything gone now! We caught at least 2 animals a day using this method. Way easier than expected. They were caught at all times of day, usually not first thing in the morning, but either later morning or in the evening.

  • Travis

    I have a groundhog that has been making holes all over my barn and I cant seem to catch him with any of my traps for months. I’ve been switching out baits and nothing seems to be working

  • mike

    How critical is human scent on the bait and trap?

    What can keep new ones from reusing the old burrow?

  • Hi Mike, I have never worried about masking scents with groundhogs and they still go right into the traps. I would just fill in the old burrows and clear out overgrown areas that might attract them and provide shelter.

  • mike

    How about bubble gum? Mine won’t go into the trap. I think he has three burrows. This is in Youngstown, Ohio. Every other house is vacant. Each time a house is torn down, it creates a little meadow.
    There’s all kinds of brush in the vacant houses’ back yards behind mine and my neighbor piles his grass clippings and evergreen bush clippings behind his garage! Otherwise his yard is immaculate. I’ll destroy the one entrance tomorrow while I search for the other hole. I have

    used your method successfully when there was only one hole. I also have outside rats! What a mess. I may have to resort to traps with peanut butter rather than poison. I even wrote to Cornell about the bubblegum.


    Michael Ponzani

  • mike

    PS I tried filling with stones, sand barbell weights, etc. He dug them back out.

  • Kenny Point

    It’s tough when you have lots of overgrown habitat surrounding you but I still think you’re best bet for controlling them is to trap them and I have never known them to become wary and avoid the traps. Set them right at an active burrow or trail that they are using and funnel their path right into the trap. Whether they dig out a burrow that you filled in or just make a new one, as long as they are there you will have the same issues to deal with.

  • Joel Harris

    I’ve since solved my problem of about twenty full grown groundhogs and tons of little ones ruining my yard garden and undermining my retaining wall that supports my garage here in central New Jersey. This isn’t exactly legal and doesn’t allow them to live but it gets rid of the problem and that’s what we needed here.

    Take a banana and cut it in half. Then slice down long ways leaving the peel on and connected on the back side. Scoop out a bit of the seed area (not too much) and fill it with gopher/rat/whatever pellets containing arsenic or whatever your poison of choice is. Smush the banana back together and wash your hands. Drop the Banana Bombs (copyrighted) down the holes and wait a few days. There’s no point in wasting fresh banana bombs on previously poisoned groundhogs. If you see more of these guys after a few days put a few bombs along their trail that they use. Do this during the day to prevent poisoning raccoons unless that is your end game. We have one left and I’m pretty sure I got him today.

    Most dogs won’t eat a banana and the only other critters that do are skunk, opossum, and raccoon so you’re taking a minimal chance of hurting something you don’t want to. To eliminate dogs all together you could put the bomb in a small trap that would only fit a gopher. All I have to do now is be extra careful when I mow the lawn…

  • Missy

    I know this is a really old post. How did you successfully remove them from your barn? I’ve been trying for over a week now with live traps inside the barn with no luck!

  • Cafay Nore

    I had two ground hogs that used a huge bush in my backyard to get close to my bird feeder pole and then they would feed on the bird seed that the blue jays liked to flip out of the several feeder trays to land on the soil below. I set a hav-a-hart live trap w/ two open ends and baited it w/ cantaloupe, peanut butter, and various fruits w/ no success. Then I realized that they came to the bird feeder because of the bird seed (duh!). I then baited it with a handful of bird seed and the next morning I had one of the buggers in the trap. I relocated him in a recreation area about 12 miles away. One down and one to go.

  • Cafay Nore

    The instructions recommend releasing the groundhog at least 10 miles from the trapping spot, but I relocated the varmit I trapped approx. 8 miles away. You have to consider the new terrain.

  • Geo

    I ended up dealing with the release of a trapped skunk and all I can advise to anyone dealing with this is to prepare yourself: you will get sprayed one way or another.

    This is what I did to minimize lasting stink (and pray it’s not a breezy day too):
    I prepared for it with thick rubber gloves, a disposable rain slicker (duct-taped the sleeves to the gloves), splash goggles, and used a large (appliance or TV) cardboard box cut open to form a flat spray “shield” to deflect and absorb the stink blast!
    After the skunk’s first shot, you can drape the cardboard over the trap while you open it for release…then make your hasty retreat to your garbage can to discard your body armor!

  • George Shepley

    I trapped the groundhog in a havahart trap, but while walking to the truck, it broke out of the trap. What are the chances of it getting trapped again?

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