I’ve Got 99 Problems… and They’re All Groundhogs.
I thought we had one problem. I thought we had one groundhog problem.
After we trapped and released one with one ease, we realized we might have to do it more than once…
Turns out we have at least 4 groundhogs and maybe a skunk or too living in our backyard, under both sheds, under the driveway and under the porch.
Now that we finally own Main Street House, the work has begun! And as most of our renovations seem to go, we take one step forward and two steps back (4 legs back in this case).
So far all we’ve done is yard work and tear down a deck (which was built on top of precious driveway space) but we’ve already discovered more problems we didn’t know about. Such as this…
That’s a hole. A groundhog hole to be precise.
Deconstruction of the back deck revealed the unfortunate fact that there were two groundhog holes under it. One right next to the driveway pad we just uncovered and one on the corner of the porch.
The place has been vacant for almost two years with little activity going on except for the occasional lawn mowing (aka a few random passes through the middle of the yard) so it’s no wonder why a groundhog moved in.
I say a groundhog because it never occurred to us that multiple groundhogs could be living under the porch and driveway!
We had high hopes that it was just one, but after catching him and filling in his hole, we came back to the house to discover the hole was dug out again! Which means something moved in that quick or there are multiple groundhogs living in there.
To top it off, we have two sheds in the backyard and both also have holes underneath them!
What follows is the story (so far) of getting rid of the groundhogs and maybe skunks in our backyard.
How We Caught a Groundhog
I’m from the city (city-ish area compared to where I live now) so I have no idea how to deal with groundhogs. The boyfriend is from the country where you deal with groundhogs by shooting them. But for some reason or another, I can’t bring myself to be okay with shooting an innocent creature and besides, the house is in town so you can’t really shoot off guns whenever you want.
So the boyfriend and I came to an agreement to catch him in a cage if possible and relocate him at least 5 miles away from our property.
The agreement was that I would do all the leg work which included:
- Researching what bait to use
- Tips from professionals on how to catch a groundhog
- Buying and cutting up cantaloupe
- Camouflaging the trap
- Setting the trap
If we caught the groundhog, the boyfriend would have to carry the cage to the truck and open the cage door to free the groundhog once we brought it to it’s new location.
I for one thought that was fair, considering we didn’t know what the demeanor of the groundhog would be once he was in the cage (although from research it seemed that groundhogs are relatively calm when you catch and release them and proved true in our case), I thought the groundhog would be vicious!
However, because neither of us knew much about groundhogs we first tried filling in the holes with dirt and packing them down, naively thinking that if his holes were filled in he’d simply go away…. Wrong!
We left the house that same night to dispose of yard debris and when we got back we found that the groundhog had already “re-dug” out his hole that we just filled in. So within the 20 minutes we were gone, he already dug out the hole underneath the porch.. again!
This little groundhog even had the nerve to scurry into the freshly dug hole when we pulled around the corner of the house to park. All I saw when we turned the corner was a brown blob disappear under the porch and a puff of dirt lingering in the air.
So that I night I found myself Googling “how to get rid of groundhogs,” “how to trap a groundhog,” “best baits to use for trapping a groundhog…”
Good old Google gave me these tips for catching and releasing groundhogs:
- If you’re going to trap and release a groundhog, make sure to do it at least 5 miles away from where you trapped him.
- Wear gloves whenever handling the cage so your scent doesn’t get all over it.
- Groundhogs love cantaloupe and other fruits and veggies that you’d have in a garden, so use that as bait.
- Rub whatever fruit or vegetable bait you’re using all over the cage.
- If possible, camouflage the cage with dirt, leaves or debris (apparently groundhogs are very perceptive and won’t just freely prance into a cage).
So what did we do with this information? We bought a trap and some cantaloupe of course!
Catching and Releasing Groundhog #1
We took the trap over to the house, touching it only with gloved hands, and put a few 2” cubes of cantaloupe at the one end. I also rubbed some cantaloupe juice all over the cage to cover up any human scent that might be on it.
Then I hid the cage in the flower bed closest to his hole, covering it with the hosta leaves (which camouflaged it really well).
We left the trap out overnight and checked it around 7am the next morning. To our surprise (kinda) we didn’t catch him. And to top it off, the cage didn’t have ANY cantaloupe left in it!
I’m standing there wondering to myself… “how did something get in there and eat the cantaloupe without getting trapped?” “Maybe he was smart and went around the cage and pulled it through the wire…”
Do you see where this story is heading…
I forgot to set the trap. Somehow when I put the trap in the garden I forgot to “set it” which means when he steps on the plate at the back of the cage, it won’t close the door and trap him in!
So someone had a free meal.
The upside to this is that I read it’s a good idea to leave the cage open with the bait in it a few times before actually setting it so they get used to trusting the cage. But because we’re always in a hurry to get stuff done, we decided to just go for it. So maybe it was for the better….
Because the first time we set the trap, we caught him!
Then we took the little guy to an undisclosed location at least 5 miles away and tried to set him free.
I say “tried” to set him free because the little guy didn’t seem to want to leave his new cage. He just sat there and looked around as if he was perfectly content to sit there all day. It wound up taking a full 6 minutes for the groundhog to vacate the cage, and even when he did, he still took his good old time walking away, stopping to look back at us every few feet until he finally disappeared from view.
Before we left the house to free the first groundhog, I filled in the hole with dirt to make sure nothing else found it and moved in. It never occurred to me there might be multiple grounds living in there!
We were giving the boyfriend’s mom the grand tour when I noticed that the hole had been dug out again! We decided to set the trap again the following morning…” it was so easy the first time” we thought.
We didn’t set the trap until about 10:30 the next morning and afterwards, headed up to the apartment above the garage to do some demo for the day. But as I made my way up to the apartment, I saw a HUGE groundhog scurry along the edge of the property and behind the shed. No doubt heading for the other hole out there.
We set the trap in the exact same way we did the first time, using cantaloupe and camouflage.
From the bedroom window I could see the trap and obsessively checked it every 5 minutes for the entire day.
I’m fairly certain he could hear us hammering and vacuuming in the apartment because he never came out… or the Momma was like “you saw what happened to your brother, leave that cantaloupe alone!”
We went home to eat dinner and left the trap set up in peace and quite for an hour or two… hoping it might lure them out. Just before dark we went to check the cage but caught only cantaloupe-loving ants.
We vowed to set the cage up earlier the next morning because that’s when we see the most groundhog activity.
And now it’s just a waiting game…
As for the Skunk and Groundhog 3 & 4…
We ran into the neighbor who told us his dog chased a skunk over on our property a few weeks back and saw it scurry under the deck, so now that’s weighing on our minds as well… Maybe he’ll just go away ::crosses fingers::
But one thing at a time… for now we have enough to keep us busy with the 99 groundhogs hanging around.