Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trapping a Groundhog Successfully!

Yes, you heard that right…a groundhog! Or a woodchuck?! Whatever you call it, he moved in right under our front walkway. I’ve been told these curious creatures are not supposed to live close to humans and do not like noise. I thought this must be a mistake, I have a 1 year old boy so believe me there is a lot of noise and laughter at my house. Apparently he didn’t get the memo, because he dug a huge burrow in the landscaping right beside our front door and continued to expand his home under our stone paver walkway!

He seemed quite happy and comfortable in his new digs. However, I was not so happy about our walkway slowly sinking to China. He even looked afraid of us at first, but that didn’t last long. He quickly had no fear and looked me right in the eye almost chuckling as he proudly marched around the yard.

After secretly hoping that our new furry neighbor would just up and move clearly did not work. It was time to take action, so we purchased a live trap to safely relocate him far away from our yard and home.

The Equipment - If you have a groundhog of your very own, here’s what you’ll need to safely trap him:

A good sturdy trap large enough to accommodate your furry friend. Tip: Make sure you fully understand how to open the trap once it is closed, so it’s easy to release when a groundhog is inside.
Havahart 1089 Collapsible One-Door 32-by-10-by-12-inch Cage Trap for Raccoons, Stray Cats, and Woodchucks

This trap is a Havahart 1089 Collapsible One-Door 32-by-10-by-12-inch Cage Trap for Raccoons, Stray Cats, and Woodchucks sold by Amazon with great reviews.

Something tasty to help lure him into your trap. Groundhogs are not picky eaters, so use what you have to help coax him in. A lot of different leafy greens, veggies, or fruits will do the trick, but I recommend using carrots, since they hold up well for a few days if it takes a while to trap your buddy.

The most important part (besides the trap) is finding sturdy objects to place around the trap to make it easy for the groundhog to take a direct path into your trap. We used large stones that were left over from our patio project. You could also try wood or boxes, really anything sturdy should work.

Setting the Trap

Groundhogs like to be out and about during the day. So, set the trap at night, when your groundhog is sound asleep deep in his burrow.

Insert your enticing veggie of choice into the trap.

Place the trap as close to the entrance of your groundhog’s burrow as possible.

Set up sturdy objects around the entrance of the groundhog's hole directly to the edges of the trap, creating a direct path into your trap. Not only will this help achieve success in trapping your groundhog, it will also help eliminate any other critters from accidentally wondering into your trap.

Check back in the morning to see if you’ve captured anything.

Traps are designed to not harm the groundhog, but you should always check it frequently so you’re not keeping a trapped animal in it for an extended period of time especially in the heat.

Successful Results - We used this exact method to successfully trap our groundhog!

Relocating a Trapped Groundhog

Although you’ve come a long way, your work is not done. Relocating a groundhog can be just as challenging as trapping him. Here are a few precautions to take:

Safety First! Make sure to keep your hands and body away from the groundhog at all times. Even if you wear gloves, they will not protect you from sharp teeth or scratches as groundhogs are wild animals that do not like to be caged. Prepare yourself as a groundhog will not be happy or friendly as you relocate him. Also keep in mind that they may carry disease, again do not touch them at all.

Place an old towel or sheet over the cage to help keep both of you calm as you relocate him.

Whatever you do, do not put the trap in your car or the trunk of a car as the groundhog will likely go to the bathroom all over the place (OK not really “the bathroom”, but you get the idea). We secured our trap in a truck bed and still had to hose it out completely when we returned home, yuck!

Consider taking a wood stick or something to carefully release the trap from afar. As soon as the trap door opened about 2 inches, our groundhog squeezed out lightning fast and scurried off to find his new home.

Words of Encouragement

Don’t Give Up!!! We patiently waited two days after setting the trap with no change. We were ready to try something else, but reluctantly left it alone. I checked the trap the next morning and still nothing. I was reading my son a book when I suddenly heard noises by the front door. I peeked out the window and the trap’s door was shut…wahoo!!! When I saw our groundhog in the trap, I literally jumped for joy. I was so excited my son was clapping. I immediately called my husband to share the good news and to make sure he could come home from work early to relocate our hairy little friend to his new home.

Then I showed my son the groundhog through the window and he started waving at him. Oh boy, it was time to redirect his attention because this surely was not going to become our new pet!

I’m all for a good adventure, but if you ask me this week has been a little too adventurous. What happened to boring? On some of these crazy days, I could use a little boring in my life…but hey, what fun would that be?!

Best of luck trapping a groundhog if you’re ever so lucky as to have one move in!

Related Posts:
Part 2 - A Groundhog, a Trap, and a Surprise!


  1. We have this same problem where I live. Lots of little wild life critters running around, even though I am in a city area. The traps are great.

    following you from MBC.


  2. I'm lol'ing at your post only because we've recently had to do the same thing! Great post :D
    I'm a new follower from MBC