Why Groundhogs Are a Nuisance: Exploring Their Destructive Habits

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are known for their burrowing and digging abilities. While these animals are fascinating to watch, they can cause significant damage to property, making them a nuisance to homeowners and farmers alike. In fact, groundhogs are considered one of the most common nuisance animals in many parts of North America.

Key Takeaways

  • Groundhogs are considered a nuisance because of the damage they can cause to property and the potential health risks associated with their presence.
  • These animals can quickly destroy gardens, crops, and lawns, causing significant financial losses for farmers and gardeners.
  • It is essential to control and prevent groundhog infestations to protect both property and human health.

Why Groundhogs Are Considered Nuisance Animals

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are considered nuisance animals due to their destructive behavior and ability to cause damage to property. They are known for burrowing into the ground, which can cause structural damage to buildings, gardens, and other structures. Groundhogs can also cause damage to crops, which can lead to significant financial losses for farmers.

Groundhogs are herbivores and primarily feed on vegetation, including flowers, vegetables, and fruits. They can cause significant damage to gardens and crops, which can be frustrating for homeowners and farmers alike. Groundhogs are also known to dig extensive burrow systems, which can undermine the structural integrity of buildings, roads, and other structures.

In addition to causing damage to property, groundhogs can also pose a health risk to humans and pets. They are known to carry diseases such as rabies and can transmit these diseases through bites or scratches. Groundhogs can also attract other nuisance animals, such as skunks and raccoons, often because of the smell of the food the groundhogs eat, which can further exacerbate the problem.

Impact on Human Life

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are cute and furry animals that are often seen as harmless. However, they can cause significant damage to human property, leading to their classification as nuisance animals. In this section, we will explore the impact of groundhogs on human life, including damage to gardens and crops and structural damage.

Groundhog digging a burrow
Photo by Mark Roland on Flickr

Damage to Gardens and Crops

Groundhogs are herbivores and have a voracious appetite for plants. They are known to feed on a wide variety of vegetation, including flowers, vegetables, and fruits. This can be a significant problem for homeowners and farmers who rely on their gardens and crops for sustenance or income.

Groundhogs are particularly fond of vegetables such as beans, peas, and lettuce, and can quickly decimate an entire crop. They can also cause damage to fruit trees by gnawing on the bark, which can lead to disease and death.

Structural Damage

Groundhogs are excellent diggers and can create extensive burrow systems that can be a hazard to humans. These burrows can undermine the structural integrity of buildings, sidewalks, and other structures, leading to costly repairs.

In addition, groundhogs can cause damage to electrical and plumbing systems by burrowing near them. This can lead to leaks, electrical shorts, and other problems that can be dangerous and expensive to fix.

If you have a groundhog problem, it is best to contact a professional wildlife removal service to ensure that the animals are removed safely and humanely.

Health Risks Associated with Groundhogs

In addition to causing property damage, groundhogs also pose health risks to humans and pets.

One of the primary health risks associated with groundhogs is the potential for the transmission of diseases. Groundhogs are known carriers of several diseases, including rabies, tularemia, and leptospirosis.

  • Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system and is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal.
  • Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted through contact with infected animals or their droppings.
  • Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted through contact with contaminated soil or water.

Groundhogs also carry fleas and ticks, which can transmit diseases to humans and pets.

  • Fleas can transmit diseases such as plague and typhus.
  • Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other illnesses.

In addition to disease transmission, groundhogs can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Groundhog droppings and urine can contain allergens that can cause respiratory problems and other allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

To minimize the health risks associated with groundhogs, it is important to take steps to prevent infestations and to avoid contact with these animals. This can include sealing off entry points to structures and removing food and water sources from the area.

A groundhog next to the opening of its burrow
Photo by Jennifer C on Flickr

Control and Prevention of Groundhogs

There are various methods for controlling groundhogs, including trapping and fencing.


Trapping is one of the most effective ways to control groundhogs. Live traps are available at most hardware stores and can be used to capture groundhogs. Once trapped, the groundhog should be relocated to a different area, preferably at least five miles away from the capture site.

It is important to check the trap regularly and release the groundhog as soon as possible to prevent injury or death. It is also important to take precautions when handling the trap, such as wearing gloves and using caution when releasing the groundhog.


Fencing is another effective method for preventing groundhogs from entering gardens or other areas. A fence should be buried at least one foot deep to prevent groundhogs from burrowing underneath it. The fence should also be at least three feet tall to prevent groundhogs from climbing over it.

Chicken wire or hardware cloth can be used for fencing. It is important to ensure that the fence is secure and does not have any gaps or holes that groundhogs can enter through. There is also a real risk that groundhogs will just dig under the fences, so extending them 2-3 feet underground is probably a good idea.

In addition to trapping and fencing, there are other methods for controlling groundhogs, such as using repellents or hiring a professional pest control service. However, it is important to research these methods and ensure that they are safe and effective before using them.

Overall, controlling and preventing groundhogs can be challenging, but with the right methods and precautions, it is possible to protect gardens, crops, and landscapes from their damage.


Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are considered nuisance animals due to their destructive behavior and ability to dig extensive burrow systems. These burrows can cause damage to buildings, foundations, and other structures, making them a serious problem for homeowners and property managers.

In addition to property damage, groundhogs can also be a threat to human safety. They can carry diseases such as rabies and their burrows can create tripping hazards. Groundhogs are also known to cause damage to gardens and crops, making them a nuisance to farmers and gardeners.

While groundhogs are cute and entertaining animals to observe, it is important to take measures to prevent them from becoming a nuisance. This can include using fencing or repellents to keep them away from gardens and structures, as well as filling in any burrows that are found on the property.

If groundhogs are causing significant damage or posing a threat to human safety, it may be necessary to contact a professional wildlife removal service to safely and humanely remove them from the property.

Overall, while groundhogs may be beloved animals in popular culture, they can be a serious nuisance in real life. Taking preventative measures and addressing any issues promptly can help minimize the damage and disruption they can cause.

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