Hello fellow readers, Bruce from Bangor PA, asked if he had a woodchuck or groundhog problem borrowing holes all over his yard. Same critter Bruce just a different label. They’re Marmota monax, to be exact, and are in the same family as squirrels – but much bigger eaters. And to think we celebrate Groundhog Day! I’ll admit I look forward to the tradition of the prediction of winter weeks remaining but not the return of the gluttonous pig.
I made a mistake seven years ago when Miss Ellie snagged a groundhog cub (also called a kit) by the horse barn and claimed ‘it’s my fuzzy’ despite my command to drop it. What was I thinking? One less groundhog is a good thing. As Ellie was in her glory, in the back of my mind, is the story of Mom’s dog named Skippy, who was attacked by an angry mother groundhog way back when. Ellie thought her new toy was just marvelous and was anxious to find more.
Groundhog babies, typically 4 to 6 in a litter, are indeed cute. Ellie’s fuzzy fell limp from compression or maybe from a massive coronary. No teeth marks as far as I could tell except on the hundred bucks’ worth of annuals that were mowed down soon after that. When one of the cubs moved out and took up residence under the screened porch, let’s just say, all bets were off.
I recently ran into Juanita of Blairstown, NJ., who described her groundhog dilemma. The critter ripped up her front walk, burying bricks to build its quarters. She’s covered up their entry holes, which is kind of like plugging holes on a sinking ship. Groundhog burrows usually have five or more entrances with tunnels up to 8 feet underground, which can literally undermine foundations. Then there’s the hazard of livestock injuring themselves in holes, not to mention crop loss. Did you know groundhogs have separate quarters for sleeping, mating, one as a nursery, and even a separate bathroom chamber? Some even have second homes. Sounds luxurious! So, how to handle our hefty invaders?
Some companies tout the benefits of predator urine, also available in a granular form. It sounds right up there with plugging holes on a sinking ship. Others say dumping used cat litter in their holes is a deterrent. The only effective way I know of is removal. You can have a heart (the live trap that is) or not; it’s up to you or your dog, but please don’t tell me about it. There’s something about being fuzzy.
Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)
You’ll enjoy a Podcast Episode featuring our furry invader: