"Nuisance Wildlife Control Specialists" Since 1998
Wildlife Biologist on Staff

Woodchuck - "Groundhog" Removal & Control Services


Woodchuck - "Groundhog"

The groundhog, or its common name woodchuck, can adapt to human environments easily, and usually by choice. In human environments, groundhogs can adapt easily due to the abundance of food and shelter. Urban landscapes provide attractive foods, such as flower gardens, green grass with clover, vegetable gardens, and fruits from trees that groundhogs will favor. Once a groundhog has found a prevalent food source, it will look for a den site that is relatively close to that food source. Your home is the den site due to increases in urbanization or land development in groundhog inhabited areas, and the overpopulation of groundhogs in these areas does not help. Loose foundation vents, storage sheds, and low-lying decks or porches are the most common den locations around your home. As long as we continue to urbanize and provide an abundance of food to the groundhog, they will continue to adapt to human environments and pose a threat to homes and human health. If you need groundhog removal services, Blue Ridge Wildlife Management, LLC is here to help you. Please Contact Us to help solve your problem.

Identification Reproduction Other Information
Trapping Techniques Damage & Damage Areas  
Health Concerns FAQ's  

Trapping & Removal Techniques

Professional grade single door live capture traps are used to trap groundhogs damaging landscapes. These traps are placed next to the damaged areas on your property. A nose cone can be placed over the entrance of the trap and over the hole to force the groundhog into the trap. Like most of our traps for other animals, these traps are covered with a custom galvanized sheet metal cover to protect the animals.

Uncovered traps to show use of nose cone   Covered traps next to a den entrance
Uncovered traps to show use of nose cone   Covered traps next to a den entrance

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Damage and Damaged Areas

Urban environments offer the ideal place for groundhogs to thrive due to their biological habits and their ability to live in man made landscapes. Burrows around buildings or homes can cause settling in the foundation or sidewalks, erosion, and costly water drainage problems in the structure. Any wires in the path of the burrow can lead to fire in some cases. The burrows in yards can cave in and lead to bodily injury or costly damage to lawn equipment. Their foraging habits can eliminate thousands of dollars in ornamentals around your home and vegetable gardens.

Den under patio   Den in middle of yard
Den under patio   Den in middle of yard
Den under swimming pool   Den with fresh dirt
Den under swimming pool   Den with fresh dirt
Installed burial fencing to keep groundhogs from burrowing under a porch
Installed burial fencing to keep groundhogs from burrowing under a porch

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Health Concerns

Health concerns related to the groundhog include fleas, ticks, lice, rabies (rare) and scabies. Individuals can only contract rabies or scabies if they come into direct contact with the animal or the container used to house the animal. Domestic animals often come into contact with groundhogs trying to defend their territory, and often lose. The loss of human life or limb can happen in the event that someone drives into a burrow while operating heavy equipment or stepping in a hole.

Groundhog with scabies   Den hole in yard
Groundhog with scabies   Den hole in yard


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Identification

Groundhog

(Marmota monax) Order Rodentia

Description:

Groundhog or Whistlepig. Sometimes mistaken for a beaver or a muskrat.

Body Size:

  • Ave. Length (Adult): 16"-27" Tail: 3 ½"-7 ½"
  • Ave. Weight (Adult): 4-15 lbs.
  • Young at Birth: 4", 1-1 ½ oz., blind, naked, pink, wrinkled, helpless.
  • Young at 4 weeks: Eyes open and they're curious, they will not leave burrow.
  • Young at 6-7 weeks: Young is weaned, and will leave burrow.
  • Young Mid-Summer (June): 20", 4 lbs., Young will leave burrow for new home.

Voice &: Sounds:

When surprised, they will whistle. When angry or threatened, they will chatter their teeth together.

Tracks:

They are similar to raccoon or opossum tracks, except they have only 4 toes. The front print is 1 ½" wide and 2" in diameter. The hind print is slightly larger with a cone shaped pad.

Other:

Groundhogs are capable of climbing trees for fruit, or to escape danger.

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Reproduction

Time of Year: (Once) February - April
Gestation: 48 Days
Young Born: March - May
Number of Young Born: 4-6
Average Reproductive Age: 2
Weaning: 6-7 Weeks

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Other Information

Habitat:

They prefer heavily vegetated forest edge areas, hillsides and fencerows around fields, usually in well drained soils. (Poison Ivy is likely to be present.)

Home:

Burrow system is composed of several entrances, tunnels and chambers. The main entrance is usually around a tree root system, sidewalk, stone wall, or building. The hole is usually 6"-18" in radius and usually has a mound of dirt in front of it. Other entrances are usually concealed in heavy vegetation, and do not have dirt piled in front of them. The tunnel can extend up to 45'. The chamber is used for rearing the young, hibernation, and sleep.

Home Range:

1/2 - 3/4 of an acre.

Food:

Their food sources usually consist of vegetation, such as leaves, flowers, soft stems of grasses, and field crops like alfalfa, apples, acorns, peas, corn, etc., and animal matter, such as grasshoppers, snails, eggs, and occasionally fledglings of ground-nesting birds. Groundhogs are seen a lot on the roadside gathering salt from the previous year's snow removal.

Habits:

They're seen throughout the day. Groundhogs are most active the first hour of daylight in the morning, and the last hour of daylight in the afternoon.

Hibernation:

Hibernation is usually from mid October or late November until late January, or even as late as March.

Average Life Span:

They can survive up to 5-6 years in the wild, and up to 10 years in captivity.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you charge for groundhog services?
  • Yes. We are not funded by your local, state or federal government. We are a private business, and must charge for our services.
  • See our Services page or Contact Us for pricing.
Do you guarantee your groundhog service?
  • We guarantee that you will receive the most courteous, honest, and professional wildlife management service in southwest Virginia or it's FREE!
  • See Our Customer page for more details.
What does the groundhog service fee cover?
  • The service fee covers us coming out, inspecting the damages, setting traps if necessary, and keeping them baited as long as it takes to catch the groundhogs. What does the price per groundhog fee cover?
  • It is cost effective to the customer, knowing that we may not catch two or more groundhogs every trip.
  • The price per groundhog fee covers us coming out, removing the contaminated trap and groundhog from your property, resetting a clean trap with fresh bait, disposal of the groundhog, and cleaning and disinfecting the contaminated trap for the next customer.
How do you prevent from catching non-target animals?
  • Most urban nuisance animals have adapted to eating anything, except what they biologically should eat.
  • We use species-specific paste baits, but they do not always work the way they should.
  • We try our best to set the traps in the area where the groundhogs are traveling.
Do you charge for non-target animals?
  • Yes we do. We still have to come out, release the animal, if needed, or remove the contaminated trap and animal from your property, reset a clean trap with fresh bait, disposal of the animal, if needed, and clean and disinfect the contaminated trap for the next customer.
  • It is the customers' decision to have us remove or release non-target animals.
  • See our Per Animal Fee page for more details.
What if the trap is stolen?
  • The customer is responsible for the trap. If the trap is set in an area that you feel like it will get stolen, please let us know so that we can move it or anchor it to the ground.
  • There is a replacement fee for stolen traps.
Can I release non-target animals myself?
  • No. There is a chance that the animal could turn and bite you.
  • See our Per Animal Fee page for more details.
Do I have to sign a contract agreement?
  • Yes. In order to protect you and our company, a contract must be signed.
  • Our contracts spell out the services to be provided, as well as our guarantee and warranties.
  • You should not do work with a company that is not willing to back up their work in writing.
  • See our Contract page for more details.
How many traps will you set?
  • We set a minimum of two professional grade single-door humane live capture traps.
Why are the traps covered?
  • We have rigid metal covers fabricated to cover the top, sides, and bottom of the trap for several reasons:
  • To prevent anybody from getting sprayed by a non-target striped skunk.
  • The top and sides are to protect the groundhog from the weather.
  • The bottom is covered to help reduce any urine or feces from being left on your property. It also reduces damage that the groundhog can create by trying to dig its way out of the trap.
  • This cover also prevents curious people that may pass by from seeing the groundhog in the trap.
  • It also reduces stress to the groundhog while it is in the trap, because it feels protected and unseen.
  • We do not use cloth material to cover our traps because the wind may blow it off, and the groundhog will usually pull the cloth into the trap leaving it uncovered.
  • See our Animal Care section for more details.
Do you put enough food and water in the traps for the groundhog in case you cannot get to it right a way?
  • Yes. There is plenty of food for the groundhog.
  • Yes. In the warmer months, we will attach water bottles to the traps, if necessary. We like to place the traps in shaded areas to reduce heat and dehydration.
Will you inspect my crawl space?
  • Yes, we will need to inspect the crawl space to look for any biohazards (fecal matter) once the groundhogs have been removed.
  • See our Biohazards page for more details.
Can you remove the insulation from my crawl space?
  • Yes, we offer insulation cleanout and installation services.
  • See our Biohazards page for more details.
How long is the groundhog service fee good for?
  • Your contract will specify the time period that it is good for, which is usually a minimum of 30 days.
  • If the groundhogs have not been caught within 30 days, which is rare, we will leave the traps out as long as it takes to catch them at no additional service fee cost. How long does your standard groundhog service last once you pull the traps?
  • Our standard service fee is usually a minimum of 30 days. Once we pull the traps or after the groundhogs have been captured, we will reset the traps if another groundhog is seen within one week.
Why did you pull the traps before 30 days?
  • Once the groundhogs have been captured and we have not had any captures, or you have not seen any in a week we will pull the traps. Leaving the traps set will only increase the chances of capturing non-target animals.
  • See our Per Animal Fee page for more details on non-target animals.
  • You also have the option of purchasing the optional service warranty.
  • See our Optional Service Warranty page for more details.
Will you repair the damaged areas to prevent future problems with groundhogs?
  • Yes. We will inspect the ground level area of the structure to find the current problem area(s), as well as any potential problems areas that should be repaired. We will give you an itemized estimate of these repairs and prices in your contract. You have the option to do what repairs you feel comfortable with. We will only recommend repairs that we feel are important to prevent future problems.
  • See our Repairs page for more details.
Do you warranty your groundhog repairs?
  • All of our warranties have a one-year minimum.
  • See our Warranty page for more details.
How long does your optional service warranty last for groundhogs?
  • It will last until December 31st of that calendar year.
  • See our Optional Service Warranty page for more details.
What is covered in my optional service warranty fee for groundhogs?
  • Once the target animal(s) have been captured or we pull the traps, the optional service warranty period will start.
  • This warranty will cover coming out, setting traps, re-baiting as long as it takes to catch the groundhogs, and the per groundhog fee.
  • See our Optional Service Warranty page for more details.
Will you renew your optional service warranty?
  • No. January 1st of the next calendar year will require a discounted service fee, plus price per groundhog service fee.
  • See our Warranty page for more details.
What does exclusion mean?
  • It is a technique where damaged areas or possible penetration points are made uninhabitable or penetrable to the groundhog.
  • See our Repairs page for more details.
How often do you re-bait the traps?
  • We re-bait the traps every 1 to 5 days, depending on the time of year and weather.
  • We like to keep the bait as fresh, or not dried up, as possible. If you feel like the trap needs bait or you do not see the bait in the trap, call us and we will send someone out to re-bait it as soon as possible.
How soon can you set the traps?
  • We will typically set the traps the day you call.
  • We always have traps available.
  • We carry the necessary traps needed in our trucks daily on a seasonal basis to better service the customer the day they call.
  • We do not like to put anything off until tomorrow.
How often do you check the traps?
  • State law requires that the traps be checked daily.
  • We ask you, the customer, to check the traps, and notify us when we have an animal in the trap.
  • If the customer checks the traps, it will eliminate additional costs to the customer, and it will also speed up the removal process.
How do I get in touch with the technician once an animal is trapped?
  • Our contract and business cards have our office number on them.
  • Our secretary will notify the technician.
  • See the Contact Us section for more details.
We live out of town and cannot check the traps everyday.
  • We can provide a complete service to you.
  • If this is a rental property, we can contact the tenants and ask them to check the traps, if necessary.
We are going out of town next week and do not have anybody that can check the traps daily.
  • We will make arrangements to have our technicians check the traps for you.
  • An additional cost may be incurred.
Will you pick up trapped animals on the weekend and holidays?
  • Yes, we work on the weekends.
  • We typically shut the traps down for holidays, so that the customer does not have to be bothered with checking them.
How long does it take for a technician to pick up an animal once I have called it in?
  • We will make every effort we can to pick up the animal and reset a trap as soon as possible.
  • We often have two to three trucks out at a time, and the secretary will notify the closest technician to your property.
Where do you relocate the animals?
  • Our permit only allows us to relocate squirrels.
What do you do with the animal after you catch it?
  • Our permit allows us to transport the live animals to another location to be euthanized.
  • Groundhogs are considered a nuisance species in the State of Virginia, and must be euthanized by law.
  • Relocating a groundhog may risk the chance of spreading disease to an uninfected area.
How do you euthanize the animals, "or put them to sleep?"
  • There are several ways to euthanize an animal. We use the most humane methods approved by the American Veterinary Association.
What if a groundhog is trapped when you come out to re-bait?
  • We will call you or leave a note on your door that we picked up an animal.
What types of bait do you use?
  • We use specialty paste baits that are formulated for groundhogs. Professionals in our industry design them for professionals.
How many traps will you set?
  • We set a minimum of two traps, more if available.
  • See our Trapping page for more details.
Where do you set the traps?
  • As close to the damaged area as possible.
Can the groundhog get out of the trap?
  • No. We use a professional grade trap with doors that lock once they close.
How much are the repairs?
  • We will inspect the ground level areas of the structure to find the current problem area(s), as well as any potential problem areas that should be repaired. We will give you an itemized estimate of these repairs and prices in your contract. You have the option to do what repairs you feel comfortable with. We will only recommend repairs that we feel are important to prevent future problems.
  • See our Repairs page for more details.

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