Are Groundhogs Dangerous? What To Do If They Are In Your Yard

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 17, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Are Groundhogs Dangerous? What To Do If They Are In Your Yard
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

A groundhog is a type of rodent that belongs to the group of marmots.

Also known as a woodchuck, the groundhog is a large ground squirrel found in North America. This lowland animal is found across the eastern parts of the United States of America and even in Canada.

Since groundhogs or woodchucks are basically large rodents, they may often wander into your yard. However, they are not known to be dangerous towards humans.

Generally, if you leave the animal alone and don't provoke it, it will leave you alone too. Sometimes, a groundhog may also have its young with it, and it may become more protective and aggressive. The animal might see you as a threat, so be careful to avoid its likely attacks, which may involve its sharp teeth and claws.

Human attacks and injuries can occur, but the damage isn't usually very serious or extreme. However, it would be best to keep your distance from these wild animals, because they could carry rabies.

If you're enjoying learning more about groundhogs and their behavior, you might have questions like, are bay leaves edible and are beans a vegetable? Check out these articles on Kidadl.

What are groundhogs?

Groundhogs belong to the family Sciuridae and are lowland creatures found across North America. You might find them cute, but they can be dangerous.

They are usually known by a variety of names throughout the region. They are also considered to be habitat engineers because they can modify or change their own ground habitat, to a large extent. These rodents are also quite solitary in nature and form complicated social networks in which they use a shrill call to communicate with others.

You might find woodchucks adorable, but they can't be kept as pets. Generally, groundhogs are wild animals and will use their razor-sharp teeth to chew through anything.

Because they are hard to control, they are not ideal household pets and are best left among other wildlife. Their wild instincts keep them poised for survival in nature, like a forest or wooded area; they do not belong in a domesticated home.

Are groundhogs aggressive?

These animals are not usually aggressive towards dogs or humans, but will bite in retaliation if threatened. If one happens to bite you, the injury will most likely be non-threatening. However, you may want to seek immediate medical attention to avoid potential complications caused by rabies.

Groundhogs and humans generally have a peaceful relationship; these creatures do not see us as natural predators. However, they are still wary of us and other domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Usually, you will not find groundhogs approaching people or other animals, though many people consider them annoying pests.

If you see a woodchuck taking care of its young, try not to disturb the animal. It can become more aggressive during this time.

Although these animals are typically peaceful, they may try to attack you if they feel threatened.

It is best to slowly coax them out of the burrows in which they live with the help of organic solutions rather than aggressively tackling them, which may put your health at risk. You may also want to keep your pet dog or cat away from these wildlife animals and keep them protected.

Are groundhogs dangerous to dogs?

Groundhogs are not typically known to be dangerous to dogs, unless they are provoked.

Although groundhogs are not harmful to dogs, their relationship depends on outside factors. Woodchucks often dig burrows for their young and may feel threatened by your pet dog while doing so.

If that's the case, there is a high chance that your dog and the groundhog may confront each other, physically putting themselves at risk of injury. Groundhogs usually bite in defense, using their large incisor teeth to ward off any predators.

In case of a bite, always provide basic first aid. Try cleaning the wound with warm water and use salves, ointments, or creams to disinfect the area. It is critical to keep the wound clean and bandaged with medical gauze or a clean cloth to reduce risk of infection.

A groundhog's bite isn't usually dangerous, but the risk of rabies should be a consideration. Vaccinating your pet against the disease is strongly recommended for your health and that of your dog.

How To Get Rid Of Groundhogs

Groundhogs can often be troublesome creatures for homeowners because they dig burrows through the foundations of homes to create their own habitats. In addition to that, they may also consume different kinds of berries and leaves that grow on fruit trees in a garden or backyard.

A woodchuck is an aggressive creature that is hard to get rid of once it invades your garden. These animals will not only dig burrows in which to live, but they reproduce quickly and that can be hard to control.

In addition, these animals can also damage grass, plants, and other trees in your garden. They can destroy and eat through any other wooden structure that you may have in your yard.

Groundhogs have powerful, strong limbs with thick, curved claws that make digging burrows easier and fast. They are known for creating networks of tunnels inside a garden.

Apart from destroying your garden or backyard, groundhogs can also pose a serious problem to your house. A large group of these rodents can effectively create a large burrow that can be as long as 45 ft (13.7 m).

Such a large tunnel can interfere with the internal structures of your home and foundation. According to construction experts, these tunnels can cause water damage.

The easiest way to find out if there is water damage in your house is to determine if your basement has increased humidity or moisture content.

Increased moisture content usually leads to mold development, which can contribute to further structural damage and compromised air quality. Consequently, these pests and their actions can be detrimental to the health of your home.

If you consider the groundhog a backyard pest, here are a few tips you can use to get rid of them.

The most common way to remove groundhogs is by using bait to lure it into traps. The best bait for groundhogs is fresh grass or plants.

Once you have safely captured the groundhog, you can take it far away from your garden or backyard and set it free in a wooded area, forest, or park. There, its new habitat can provide for its needs while preserving your property.

However, if you're new to trapping animals, the process can be quite difficult and you may need some practice.

You can also use repellents like ammonia or garlic and pepper to deter groundhogs. You will often find these animals burrowing in a small hole or a den in your garden.

If that's the case, you can pour some ammonia down the den. If you do not have ammonia on hand, you can also use garlic and pepper.

The groundhogs will climb out of their burrows and into the traps due to the strong smell of the repellents. After all, these wild groundhogs can't stand the strong, pungent smell of ammonia.

A lot of people also use smoke to bring them out of their burrows. If you have located one end of the hole, you can light a piece of paper or wood on fire and transfer the smoke into their den.

You can also stomp to create vibrations in the ground to shake them up, and they will usually come running out of the holes.

Another convenient method to keep groundhogs out of your property would be to set up a wire fence around the perimeter as a way to block their invasion. Chicken wire has been a popular fence material and used by a lot of people.

A bizarre yet effective method is scattering human hair or talcum powder on the ground! This strategy might sound strange, but some people have reported that it works.

These animals also have natural predators in wildlife that include bobcats, red foxes, coyotes, and badgers.

A Groundhog in a Hole Looking Curiously.

Did You Know...

There is plenty more to learn about groundhogs. Find out about the diet and hibernation patterns of these fascinating creatures in this part of the article!

Groundhogs are mostly herbivorous in nature but may also be omnivorous in particular situations. They have been observed feeding on wild grass, berries, and agricultural crops.

They are preferential to buttercups, raspberries, lettuce, alfalfa, clovers, and even mulberries. If you have these plants or trees in your garden, you may likely find groundhogs digging holes in your property in order to feed from them. Sometimes, a groundhog will eat small insects like grasshoppers or snails with the help of their large teeth.

Since groundhogs have to prepare to live in hibernation during winter, they start producing fat in early June to keep them warm for the entire season. During the early summer months, the groundhog will reduce its food intake as its metabolism slows down to store more fat.

Groundhogs are one of the few squirrel species that undertake hibernation during the winter months by going to an underground site. These creatures eat a lot of food before hibernating so their body fat can sustain their health from fall to early spring.

Their hibernation months usually last from October to March.

Woodchucks will use their strong arms and feet to tunnel in areas with dense vegetation or shrubs that will stabilize their burrows. Groundhogs burrow deep underground, at least a few inches below the surface, and make that hole their home until the warm spring weather thaws the world again.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are groundhogs dangerous, then why not take a look at are birds warm-blooded, or are ferns toxic to dogs?

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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