Groundhogs can be infected by rabies. They can also suffer from other ailments. Some signs that a groundhog is in need of help include falling over, appearing disoriented, or walking in circles. If you notice a groundhog displaying any of these symptoms, please call Humane Rescue Alliance at 202-723-5730.
Groundhogs are one of the few mammals that hibernate during the colder months here in the district. Most people don’t know they are sharing their yards with them until the spring and summer when they come out of their burrows and begin foraging for food. Groundhogs are generally not aggressive and scare fairly easily. Using a range of deterrents will keep them from areas you don’t want them around. Trapping of groundhogs is not a humane solution, as is the case with any wildlife that is not sick or injured. Since Groundhogs raise their young in burrows, trapping and removing an adult could mean that you are unintentionally orphaning a litter of babies.
Groundhogs are weary of anything that moves and they perceive it as a possible threat. Using mylar balloons, the ones that grocery stores or party supply stores sell, can be used to scare them away. Take the balloon and tie the string to a rock or weight of some sort and place it near the area the groundhog is frequenting. The hovering of the balloon as well as the erratic movement will worry the groundhog enough that he will move to a different location. Pinwheels, mylar strips, even motion activated halloween decorations can be used to deter them from your yard, deck, shed or porch.
Groundhogs are vegetarians, and can require a large amount of food when they are prepping for their hibernation. The most effective way to keep them from getting to your garden is to install a simple 3 ft high fence around the plot. The fence should be a bit wobbly so the groundhog doesn’t attempt to climb it. Extend the bottom of the fence a foot out to keep them from digging under to get in. You could also utilize some other deterrents such as mylar strips, pinwheels and even “Critter Ridder” a product that uses capsaicin, a chemical that is found in spicy peppers. The “Critter Ridder” will need to be applied frequently, especially after a rainfall. Used kitty litter, dirty gym socks as well as dog urine can be used around the garden to keep the groundhogs away.
Groundhogs are non-aggressive animals. They forage for vegetation in yards or gardens, which is the most common complaint we receive about them at Humane Rescue Alliance. Groundhogs hibernate during the winter months, so many people believe they have appeared from nowhere once the weather warms up, when in reality they are just waking up and very hungry. They spend the warm weather fattening up for their long sleep over the winter. Groundhogs burrow to make their homes but will make a den under a shed or deck. They do keep their young in those dens, mom will leave during the day for forage for food leaving the babies behind. This is why it is inhumane to trap groundhogs during spring and summer months. You unintentionally make orphans of their young who are unable to survive on their own. There are ways to encourage mom to choose a different location to raise her young. Here are some tips:
*The Humane Rescue Alliance does not recommend urine-based deterrents because they are collected in a non-humane manner.
If a wild animal is in need, danger or you believe it is rabid, immediately call us at 202-723-5730.
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