Woodchuck / Groundhog Trapping Tips

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You can use either a lethal body-grip trap mounted right over the hole, or a live capture cage trap. The lethal type of trap is guaranteed to work, but it's very dangerous to use, and should only be set by professionals with experience. Read more about Do Pest Control Companies Remove Groundhog?, What Wildlife Rehabilitators Do With Groundhogs and Does the City Or County Animal Services Department Help With A Groundhog Issues?. It can also kill unintentional animals, and is illegal in many states. A live cage trap has a lower success rate, but if you set it on the groundhog pathway and bait it with tasty vegetables, you'll probably get the woodchuck, and then you can relocate it a few miles away. Read the full guide Is it Legal to Trap A Groundhog?



How To Trap A Groundhog

The groundhog is an animal that can cause a great deal of damage when they are living under or near domestic properties, and the best solution will be to trap and remove the animal. It is important to bear in mind that there are a number of states that have strict regulations about the trapping and relocation of wild animals, and that it is worth checking on the rules in your local area. Groundhogs may be cute animals that are an important part of American culture, but they can also be a great pest that can cause an awful lot of damage.

Using The Right Trap For Your Needs

The majority of people will want to use a live trap that will catch the groundhog in a cage, because this is the cleanest way to deal with the problem. The most commonly used trap for catching a groundhog will be the one door type that will be triggered as the groundhog enters the trap, causing the door to close behind the animal. These traps are available in various sizes, and a trap about a foot in height and two and a half feet in length will usually be sufficient. Although there are other types of traps that can also be used to catch the animal alive, the cage trap is the most common and most successful type of trap available.

There are also lethal traps that are available that can kill a groundhog, and these are generally traps that are spring loaded and will snap shut around the body of the animal when it steps on the trigger. The issues associated with using a lethal trap is that it is possible that it may be triggered by a cat or another domestic pet. Using a lethal trap will also mean that people will have to deal with the carcass afterwards, and this will often attract other animals to the area. Only lethal traps are good for killing this animal, groundhog poison is not a real product. Read more about Should You Ever Poison A Groundhog?

Positioning And Baiting A Groundhog Trap

Choosing the location for a groundhog trap is one of the most important things, and this will generally be near the burrow of the animal or the area of your garden that it is using to get in. For those who have a groundhog on their property, placing the trap very close to the entrance of the burrow will usually be best, and because of the amount of soil that is moved it will often be quite obvious where the animal is dwelling.

Using the right bait is also important, otherwise its possible that you may trap another animal instead of the groundhog. There are commercial products available, but many people have had great success using sunflower seeds, peanut butter and even corn, although cantaloupe is the bait of choice preferred by many people. Pretty much any fresh vegetables will do, such as broccoli. Once the trap has been placed near the usual path or the burrow of the groundhog, spread some bait on the floor in front of the trap, before putting more of the bait inside the trap to encourage the animal to enter.

Handling And Removing The Animal

The gopher is an animal that can carry a number of different diseases, so it is important to make sure that any contact with the animal is kept to a minimum. If you have used a lethal trap it is best to double bag the carcass in thick bin liners, and then to dispose of it in the garbage if local regulations allow this. Read the guide How To Tell if an Active Groundhog is Rabid or Diseases Groundhogs Carry.

For those who have trapped a live groundhog, throw a blanket over the trap as this will help to calm the animal. Some regulations will ask that you take your groundhog to an authorized location, but if there is no such scheme in your state drive the animal at least 10 miles away from your home before releasing the groundhog. Read the guide What to Do If You Find a Nest of Baby Groundhogs.

Go back to the main groundhog removal page, or check out my how to get rid of a groundhog in the garden page or my how to get a groundhog out from under a shed or deck page. You can also read about How to Tell if there is a Groundhog Under Your Porch and marmot trapping if that's the burrowing animal in your region.

How to Trap a Groundhog


Just like most other animals, groundhogs like to inhabit cool and comfortable places, where they can mate, breed in safety and wean their young ones, and hibernate during the winter. They make burrows underneath your patio, shed, porch, garden, lawn and any other place they can find shelter. However, they are often destructive in the course of their search for food.



Trapping is an old practice in groundhog control and it is also a highly successful method with great testimonials. There are two types of traps commonly available for catching nuisance animals, and they are the live and lethal traps. As the names indicate, one traps animals alive and the other does terminate their lives.

Live traps for groundhogs
1-door live trap – the one door live trap has only one door through which the groundhog enters in, after this the trap’s trigger goes off and the door will close on the animal, trapping it in. usually, the trap is a box cage that is large enough to contain the groundhog without hurting it until it is set free. The bait used for this type of live trap should be placed at the end of the trap after the trigger plate so that it is impossible to remove the bait without touching the trigger point of the trap.

2-door live trap – this trap features two doors through which the groundhog can easily walk in. Place your bait around the trigger plate as well, and this should be far enough from the entrance to accommodate the woodchuck’s whole body before the door shuts on it. You should also make sure the groundhog cannot eat the bait from outside of the trap. Read the guide Equipment You Need to Trap a Groundhog.

Lethal traps
The goal of a lethal trap is to kill the groundhog once it is caught. Most groundhog lethal traps are body grip traps that will snap around the animal once it steps on its trigger pan. It will be killed quickly without suffering too much. Examples of lethal traps are Conibear and BMI body grip traps.

One major problem of lethal trap is that it will possibly kill other, untargeted animals, maybe even pet dog or cat, who find the bait before the groundhog.

The location of your trap is very paramount to the success of the trapping process. Set your trap about 5 - 10 inches away from an active burrow of the groundhog’, this will make it easy for the animal either to wander into it or be lured in by the bait. You may even install a funnel path to guide your groundhog to the trap.

Bait
Use ripe fruits or nutrient rich vegetables as your bait, although groundhogs are likely to eat anything you use; they are hardly picky when it comes to feeding. Bananas, broccoli, lettuce leaves, sunflower seed, peanut butter, apples and corns are all good baits.

Tips for trapping groundhogs
Pre-baiting: this involves placing foods that will later be use in baiting the trap around it without setting the trap to catch the animal. This makes the groundhog less suspicious of your trap and will carelessly walk into the trap when you finally set it to catch the groundhog.

Camouflage your trap: Cover it with vegetables, dust, or debris to make it blend with the landscape and less obvious to the groundhog.

Avoid leaving your scent on the trap: Groundhogs possess a sharp sense of smell and will perceive human scents if left on the trap. This will obviously repel them and they wouldn’t go near it. A good plan is to wash your trap once you get it and thereafter, wear protective hand gloves when handling the trap or baits. Read the guide Best Bait to Trap a Groundhog or Can You Use a High Pitch Sound Deterrent Machine Against Groundhogs?

Set multiple traps. Endeavour to use more than one trap. This will increase your chance of catching groundhogs.

Let your trap be stable and firm: it should stand flush to the ground, stable and firm else it could get triggered off before the animal has entered into the trap fully.

How to Dispose of Trapped Groundhogs
If you used a live trap, carry the caged groundhog carefully and transport to a suitable location miles away from your house, where you may set them free to return into the wild.

If the critter is dead, dispose them off in an appropriate manner. There are regulations regarding where and how to do this from location to location. Find out what obtains in your area. Read about The Groundhog's Reproduction Cycle and Mating Habits.

Go back to the Groundhog Removal page.

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