Groundhogs are very common fixtures in yards and gardens across the United States and Canada. They are somewhat considered American icons, thanks to their place in movies and also because they are the official announcers of springtime. Groundhogs are known, despite all this, as pests for property owners who pride themselves on manicured lawns and award-winning gardens. Once one burrows in your yard, it’s often nearly impossible to get it back out. Odds are that the groundhog will mate and generate offspring before you ever manage to shoo it off your property. While you may decide to make peace with your new furry friends, and let them have a small share of your vegetable garden, many people want them gone.
There are a couple of options for getting rid of a groundhog, but they do not end with your backyard buddy finding a happy ending elsewhere. Most states require that you trap and kill a pest if you cannot get it off your property. Very few states allow you to trap and relocate a groundhog, meaning you’ll have to find a humane way to execute the animal. If you’re not up for that, you can always call a professional pest control company. They can manage it quickly and effectively, but that will cost you a pretty penny.
If you’re on a budget, or too soft-hearted to trap and kill a groundhog (and its whole family), your best option is to try to deter it from coming back to your property. Fill up the tunnels with dirt, spray repellant everywhere, or reinforce fences and make raised garden beds. Turn on sprinklers if the weather permits, and just try to discourage them from setting up shop in your yard.
One thing you can never do, however, is trap the groundhog and decide to keep it (or the whole family) as a pet. It is illegal to make a wild animal your pet. Not only are you trying to domesticate an animal, but you may be preventing a mother from returning to her den, or separating a family of groundhogs. Outdoor cages (the only cages one would feasibly want to keep a wild animal in) also make them sitting ducks for large predators. That is not good for either you or the groundhogs, as you don’t want large predators returning to your yard.
Groundhogs do not make good pets, as they obviously dig and chew through almost anything in their path. Odds are, they will find a way out of a cage and will escape eventually. It is especially important that you do not try to keep baby groundhogs, even if you know they are orphaned. It is best to call your local animal control or an animal shelter to ask if they can take them in and rehabilitate them. Baby groundhogs are very sensitive, and can die if not given the proper attention. Despite being cute, groundhogs do not make good pets.
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