Mary’s Monday Metazoan: We’ve got company

We’ve been invaded by a pair of groundhogs who have taken up residence under our deck, and are apparently dining grandly on our weedy overgrown backyard. They’re evasive, though, and I’ve only got this one poor shot of one of them resting in the dappled shade.


OK, here’s a clearer shot of what they look like from the web.


These two are big beasts, and they probably outweigh our cat, who claws frantically at the door to the deck when they make an appearance. I have mixed feelings about their presence — on the one hand, they have gnawed on things in the past, and now we’ve got a mating pair — but on the other hand, they are native Minnesotans. Maybe I should leave them be.

On the third hand, they do look rather plump and meaty, and if we weren’t all vegetarian, might be tempting to toss in a stewpot…


  1. birgerjohansson says

    If you have a problem with big rodents, scare them off with even bigger rodents. Mutant capybaras?

  2. laurentweppe says

    If you have a problem with big rodents, scare them off with even bigger rodents

    Or, get rid of your cat and get a big dog.
    One day, the labrador we had turned the garden, and the neighbors’ gardens, and the large open field between our house and the neighboring high-school into quite the realistic replica of Verdun’s trenches, but from then on, no rodent dared to venture near the house.

  3. Michael says

    Without knowing the specifics of your foundation, crawlspace, cellar, basement, or slab–if they’re under the deck, they’re burrowing, and if it’s possible for them to get under your house, they will. I suggest trapping them and releasing them far away (at least a few miles), and then closing up the deck with some lattice to prevent further intrusions.

    The holes they dig will also let less adorable wildlife into places you don’t want them (skunks. I’m talking about skunks). After the third unwanted visitor got trapped in my cellar, I had to tear up my back deck to take care of all the groundhog freeways. Stop it before it gets to that point.

  4. moonbat52 says

    These are welcome in our yard. Unlike the tall rats (deer) and bastard bunnies, they tend to eat mostly weeds. They’ve even stopped chomping on the echinacea. A good crop of cowslip keeps them happy. If you want to eat them, remember, they must be skinned immediately upon demise, or the fat layer goes rancid and permeates the meat with a taste that is beyond “gamey”.

  5. Sili says

    I just confirmed yesterday that my tiny garden now hosts a hedgehog.

    I’ve ordered at house for him and tried to plug the narrow gap under the door that he must have somehow squeezed through, so that I can keep him.

    Or … do hedgehogs climb?

  6. says

    I am not serious about eating them.

    We have a wooden lattice surrounding the deck. They chewed through it. Now I’m a little shy about putting wire around the place, because they might have babies in a nest, and separating parents from dependents is not a happy thought. Also that I’d be afraid of wiring them in.

  7. johnhodges says

    I have no personal experience with them. But my sister is an Extension specialist at the U of Nebraska for farmers of small fruits and vegetables, and she hates them; they destroy gardens. I have friends who were pacifist vegetarians and organic gardeners, who kept a loaded rifle inside the kitchen door for the woodchucks. I recall a short article in Mother Earth News by a homesteader who had no indoor plumbing, who had a wonderful solution to two problems: empty your chamber pots down groundhog burrows. This makes the groundhogs move out in disgust, and dig new burrows for you to empty your chamberpots down.

  8. neilb48239 says

    For what it’s worth, my next-door neighbor once had a ground hog. She never had any luck cage-trapping it so she ended up reaching her arm down the ground hog’s entrance-way and pepper-spraying its tunnel. The ground hog scrammed and was never seen again.

  9. Ray, rude-ass yankee (Whimsy, I has it) says

    Second the comment about them getting under crawl spaces & burrowing under foundations. Friend of mine just had to get rid of a pair that were undermining his house foundation with their extensive tunneling under his deck.

  10. george gonzalez says

    We get these about every other year. They eat the tulips and flowers. We’re reluctant to take extreme measures so we go rent a live trap at the rental store, $6 a day, stock it with a carrot and within a day there is a big creature in the trap. Then it’s “just” a matter of hauling the box to a swampy area a few miles away and letting it go. I was worried the first time that it might attack me when I opened the cage but it was whoosh! gone in about half a second into the weeds.

  11. Blondin says

    Perhaps this presents an opportunity to find the answer to a question that bothered me for a very long time. To start with can you determine whether or not they can chuck wood? If so I have a follow up question.

  12. c. p.norris says

    My experience of cat-groundhog interaction was that the cat liked to follow the groundhog around but could sense that the herbivorous groundhog was not a threat, and that the groundhog was a little too big to be good prey.

  13. phein39 says

    These critters are not harmless. After a heavy rainfall forced one out its burrow next to the parking lot at work, it crawled up into my engine compartment and did $700 worth of damage as I drove up and down the highway. State Farm covered it, but only because I have pictures of it trapped between the hinge-arm of the front hood and the battery. The groundhog wasn’t happy about any of this, either. Check with your insurance agent, and see what they will cover if critical things do get munched on.

  14. magistramarla says

    laurentweppe @3
    Why would PZ have to get rid of his beloved kitty just because he adds a big dog to the family?
    We already had two cats when I got my German Shepherd mobility dog. The three of them get along just fine.

  15. robb says

    I live in Minneapolis. I haven’t seen any groundhogs recently. here are the unusual-ish animals I have seen in my neighborhood recently: wild turkeys walking down an alley, a coyote that lives in a den at the end of our cul-de-sac and a mink stopping to watch me bike by.

  16. unclefrogy says

    many animals will move if their nests are sufficiently disturbed some animals really do not like moth balls. I like animals of all kinds but I have to draw the line for each where needed When they damage my house or property they have stepped over the line.
    If the look of hardware cloth does look appeal you could install it under the lattice but I would bury the bottom part of the hardware cloth curving outward to discourage them going under. Those two came from some where with a growing population!
    uncle frogy

  17. says

    Give them cuddles and kisses. They love that. Also I am an antibiotic salesman and this in no way influences my advice.

  18. bcwebb says

    You got yerselves some whistlepigs…

    Off to the woods for to catch a groundhog.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Run here Sally with a ten foot pole, (repeat)
    To twist that whistle-pig out of his hole.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Here comes Sal with a snicker and a grin, (repeat)
    Groundhog gravy all over her chin.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Look at them fellers, they’re a-goin’ wild, (repeat)
    Eat that hog before he’s cooked or biled.
    Oh, groundhog.
    I dug down but I didn’t dig deep, (repeat)
    There laid a whistle-pig fast asleep.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Now the meat’s in the cupboard and the butter’s in the churn, (repeat)
    If that ain’t groundhog I’ll be derned.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Well you eat the meat and save the hide, (repeat)
    Make the best shoestring ever was tied.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Look at them fellers, they’re about to fall, (repeat)
    Eat till their britches won’t button at all.
    Oh, groundhog.
    Little piece of cornbread a-layin’ on the shelf, (repeat)
    If you want any more, you can sing it yerself.
    Oh, groundhog.

  19. K E Decilon says

    I had them take up residence under my pole barn, and was concerned that they could damage the foundation.
    I wanted to live trap them, but my friend where I was going to release them said they would make good target practice. Also it turns out it is illegal to relocate rodents in my state.
    I came up with a solution similar to JohnHodges. I wheeled the Welcome Wagon out to greet them and gifted them with a 10 gallon bucket of well used kitty litter. They moved out the next day.