Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) are among the largest members of the squirrel family and primarily live in underground burrows. While you may hardly ever see them because they spend most of their time underground, you may see the damage they can cause. If you have a groundhog living in your yard, you may notice large holes (i.e., burrow entrances) that start appearing on the surface of some areas of your yard. Most of the damage groundhogs can potentially create is caused by digging to create their underground burrows that may have multiple entrances/exits and chambers. In fact, the underground tunneling efforts of groundhogs can potentially damage vegetation in your yard and/or cause structures to become unstable.
If you are concerned that groundhogs may be digging under your outdoor shed or other structure, it’s a good idea to understand what can be done to prevent possible damage.
Learning how to exclude groundhogs that may be burrowing under a shed or other structures may require patience and a combination of techniques. These pests typically spend the months of October to late February in hibernation underground, but when they are awake, their priority is to find food. The best way to exclude them from your property is to make your yard and/or garden less desirable.
Some exclusion methods include:
Woodchucks generally forage in more rural environments as they feed outside their burrows. You can make your yard less attractive by simply removing this protective cover that camouflages them. Trim tall grassy areas and remove brush and/or wood piles. If the groundhogs do not have protected foraging areas they may move on to other areas to look for food.
Groundhogs spend the winter months hibernating and, during Spring, Summer and Fall, they are typically only outside of their burrows for approximately 2 hours at a time. Consequently, disturbing (e.g., making loud noises) them while they are active is one method that can be used to make your yard less desirable. Groundhogs typically emerge from their burrows to search for food from sunrise to 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. to sunset. They may be aggravated to find you walking around their burrow entrance, and your presence alone can be enough to deter them from digging and/or foraging for food. If groundhogs are disturbed frequently during their active times, they may leave the area in order to find a more suitable location that offers easier access to food. Caution is advised and homeowners should not attempt to come in close proximity to groundhogs or their burrows as some animals may become defensive if they are threatened and this can lead to aggressive behavior.
If you’ve already spotted signs of digging around structures on your property that may be evidence of groundhogs, you may be wondering, “How do I get rid of groundhogs under my shed?” Prevention can help prevent potential structural damage caused by burrowing groundhogs. For example, you could try building a fence to help keep groundhogs away before they infest the area; however, keep in mind that, since groundhogs can climb and burrow, fencing should be deep (at least 10 to 12 inches deep into the ground) and tall (at least 4 feet high). You may want to also try using loose wiring to cover plants or other crops on which groundhogs may be feeding.