What Do Groundhogs Eat in the Garden?

What Do Groundhogs Eat in the Garden?

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are rodents that can be found in North America. They are the largest members of the squirrel family, and they can weigh up to fifteen pounds. Groundhogs are herbivores, and their diet consists mostly of plants. This blog post will take a closer look at what groundhogs eat and how you can keep them out of your garden!

What Are Groundhogs?

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks or whistle-pigs, are burrowing rodents of the Sciuridae family. These medium-sized animals usually live between three and seven years in the wild and can weigh anywhere from four to nine pounds. They have reddish-brown fur that’s often lighter on their bellies and darkens with age. Groundhogs tend to be solitary animals — living alone in their burrows — but they may congregate in large numbers during the spring breeding season.

The groundhog is an important figure in folklore, most notably for its association with predicting the arrival of spring each year. On February 2nd, Groundhog Day is celebrated by some communities who believe that if a groundhog sees its shadow, winter will last for six more weeks, and if it doesn’t, spring will arrive early. Groundhogs are also popularly featured in films, cartoons, and books.

These animals can be found in North America from the Appalachian Mountains to southern Canada. They inhabit fields and meadows but prefer forest edges with plenty of hiding spaces since they are notoriously timid creatures. Groundhogs are omnivores that consume all kinds of vegetation including grasses, flowers, fruits, and nuts as well as small insects such as grubs and beetles.

Groundhogs build elaborate burrows that have several chambers connected by tunnels — their homes typically have multiple entrances to help them escape predators quickly. These animals are also great swimmers, although they rarely do so unless necessary.

The groundhog’s natural predators include foxes, coyotes, hawks, owls, and snakes. In some areas, their populations have been impacted by humans who hunt them for sport or to protect their gardens from destruction. Groundhogs can also carry rabies and spread other diseases to livestock, so it’s important to take precautions when living near these animals.

Though sometimes seen as a nuisance due to their propensity for raiding gardens and potentially carrying disease, groundhogs play an important role in the ecosystem by consuming insects that may be harmful to crops and vegetation. They also help keep the soil aerated through their burrowing activities [1].

What Are Groundhogs?

What Attracts Groundhogs in the Garden?

Groundhogs can be attracted to a garden for multiple reasons. One of the main attractions is the presence of soil and vegetation that is ideal for burrowing, as groundhogs are known to dig tunnels underground. Gardens also provide an abundant source of food, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flowers.

Groundhogs may also be drawn to gardens in search of shelter or protection from predators. The presence of structures like raised beds or stone walls may offer additional security and shelter to groundhogs that visit your garden.

Finally, if you have a bird feeder in your garden, this could potentially attract groundhogs looking for an easy meal! They will often raid birdseed on the ground and feast upon it. Taking steps to ensure that bird feeders are secure and don’t leave food lying around will go a long way in keeping groundhogs away.

3 Possible Impacts Groundhogs Make on Gardens

Eating produce

Groundhogs have a diverse diet, but they love to munch on fruits and vegetables. If you have an open garden with ripe produce, groundhogs will often come in search of a snack. They are particularly fond of tomatoes, beans, and other leafy greens. Once they find a food source that they like, they can become quite persistent. This means that your prized vegetables may end up as lunch for these cheeky creatures if left unprotected.

Digging Tunnels

Groundhogs are burrowing animals and use their strong claws and teeth to dig tunnels underground. These tunnels can cause major damage to the foundation of buildings or destroy the roots of trees, shrubs, and other plants in your garden. In addition, these tunnels can act as a safe haven for other ground-dwelling critters like skunks and opossums.

Spread of Diseases

Groundhogs are known carriers of rabies, fleas, ticks, mites, and other parasites. These critters often carry diseases that can be difficult to diagnose or treat. If a groundhog enters your garden, it will likely bring with it any parasites or diseases it may have contracted. This means that the health of your plants could suffer if left unchecked.

Clawing fruit trees

Groundhogs are known to climb trees, especially when searching for food. If a groundhog finds its way up into your fruit tree, it can cause considerable damage by clawing and tearing off branches or leaves. This can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to diseases.

Clawing fruit trees

What do groundhogs like to eat in the garden?


Groundhogs like to eat leafy greens in the garden such as lettuce, spinach, kale, and other vegetables. They also enjoy fruits like apples, pears, and berries. Groundhogs are attracted to gardens that have plenty of these types of foods available. If you want to keep them out of your garden it is best to plant plants that they do not like such as hot peppers or tomatoes. Providing shelter away from your garden can also help encourage groundhogs to find food elsewhere. For example, placing a large log or rock pile near the edge of your property can give groundhogs a place to hide while they search for food in nearby areas instead of invading your garden space.


Groundhogs also love to eat grains, such as wheat and oats. If you have a garden that is close to a field or other area where these types of food are readily available then it may be wise to keep an eye out for groundhogs trying to get an easy meal. If you notice groundhogs in your grain-producing areas, then it is best to set up barriers or protections around the area so that they cannot access the food.


Groundhogs are also known to eat insects like ants, spiders, and beetles. These can be found most often in wooded areas near the groundhog’s den or burrow. By keeping these insects away from your property, you will help prevent groundhogs from coming in search of food.


Groundhogs also enjoy eating the bark off of trees, which can be damaging to the tree. To prevent this, it is best to keep trees away from groundhog dens and burrows or use deterrents such as strong-smelling sprays around their den entrances. Keeping an eye on your trees for any signs of damage and repairing that damage quickly can help prevent further destruction by groundhogs.


Groundhogs are also known to eat various types of seeds including sunflower, pumpkin, melon, and squash. If you have these types of plants in your garden then it is important to remove them before they get eaten by groundhogs. Planting native grasses or other natural plants can be a good way to provide groundhogs with food while also keeping them away from your garden.


Groundhogs also love to eat vegetation such as grass, clover, and other small shrubs. If you have a garden that is close to areas where these types of plants are found then it is important to keep an eye out for groundhogs. Removing the vegetation or deterring them away with natural repellents can help make sure they don’t get access to your garden.



Groundhogs are also attracted to fruits like apples, pears, and berries. If you have these types of plants growing in your garden then it is important to make sure that groundhogs cannot access them. Planting deterrents such as thorny bushes or certain kinds of peppers can help keep groundhogs away from this food source [2].

4 Methods for Getting Rid of Groundhogs in Your Garden

Live traps

Live traps are a humane and cost-effective way to get rid of groundhogs. Live traps come in various sizes and shapes, making them easy to set up in your garden or lawn. Be sure that the trap you buy is approved for live trapping of groundhogs, as some can harm the animals. Place bait inside the trap such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, or peanut butter. Once the groundhog has been captured, release it into a wooded area at least five miles from your home.


There are many commercial repellents available on the market which can be used to keep groundhogs away from your property. These products typically contain ingredients like hot pepper extracts or oils, which are thought to be odorous or unpleasant for groundhogs. Be sure to always follow the label instructions when applying repellents and reapply as needed.


Installing a fence around your garden is another effective way of keeping groundhogs out. The fence should be at least four feet tall and constructed of materials like chicken wire or welded wire mesh with small enough gaps that groundhogs can’t squeeze through. Bury the bottom 6-12 inches below ground level to prevent burrowing. To further deter them from entering your garden, consider adding barbed wire along the top of the fence.

Cayenne Pepper

The application of cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your garden can help to keep groundhogs away. Sprinkle the pepper around the edges of your garden, or mix it with other spices like garlic or onion powder and sprinkle that mixture along the perimeter. Groundhogs are sensitive to smells and tastes, so they will likely avoid any area where cayenne pepper is present. Reapply after periods of heavy rain or irrigation. These methods should help you get rid of groundhogs in your garden without needing to resort to lethal means.


In some cases, you may be able to enlist the help of natural predators such as foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls. These predators can help keep groundhogs away from your garden by hunting them or scaring them off. If you have a dog that spends time outside in your yard, that too may help deter groundhogs. Be sure to always supervise your pet when they are outdoors to make sure that the animals don’t harm each other.


Strong-smelling substances

Groundhogs are said to be repelled by strong smells. You can use this to your advantage by setting up areas around your garden that contain things like ammonia, garlic, or vinegar. These substances release a strong odor which may deter groundhogs from entering the area. Make sure to reapply these scents every few days as they will eventually wear off over time [3].

How do you prevent a groundhog from invading your backyard?

There are several steps you can take to help prevent groundhogs from invading your backyard.

1) Remove potential food sources. Groundhogs are drawn to gardens and compost heaps that provide easy access to vegetables, fruits, and other edibles. Make sure all existing vegetable gardens are well-covered with a fence or netting and keep any compost far away from the garden area.

2) Trim back overgrown vegetation as groundhogs often use it for hiding spots when they feel threatened by predators.

3) Install barriers such as fences at least two feet high in the groundhog’s path of travel or around vulnerable areas such as gardens and flower beds. Fences should have a mesh size no bigger than one inch to keep groundhogs out.

4) Employ chemical repellents, such as pepper spray or castor oil-based products, around the perimeter of your property. Reapply the product after heavy rainfalls or when you notice signs of groundhog activity in the area.

5) Set live traps baited with corn or apples near burrows and check them daily. When a groundhog is captured, release it at least five miles away from your property so that it does not return.

6) Finally, consider bringing in a professional pest control expert to help if all else fails. They will be able to provide more tailored advice based on your specific situation and can implement further remedies if necessary.


How do you get rid of a groundhog?

There are several humane ways to get rid of a groundhog, including using exclusion methods such as blocking their access with fences or other barriers and trapping them in live cages. Groundhogs can also be scared away by loud noises and flashing lights. If necessary, lethal methods such as poisons or hunting may be used but should be handled with caution since it is illegal in some areas. It is important to contact local wildlife experts for more specific advice on how best to remove groundhogs from an area safely and effectively.

What is safe to feed groundhogs?

Groundhogs are primarily herbivores, meaning they feed mainly on plants and vegetation. They will readily eat a variety of vegetables such as carrots, peas, greens, apples, and corn. Fruits like bananas, strawberries, and melons can also be fed to groundhogs. Grains like oats and wheat should be limited as occasional treats. Groundhogs should never be given meat or processed foods as this can lead to health issues.

What is safe to feed groundhogs?

What kind of habitats do groundhogs live in?

Groundhogs typically inhabit areas with open fields, gardens, and lawns near the edges of forests. They dig extensive burrows which provide them protection from heat and cold temperatures as well as predators. Groundhogs need access to water sources and shelter from bad weather. They often live in family groups of up to five individuals, so the presence of multiple burrows is a sign of groundhog activity.

Do groundhogs carry disease?

Groundhogs can carry various diseases that can be harmful to humans and other animals if contact is made. These include rabies, tularemia, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and ringworm. It is important to avoid direct contact with wild groundhogs as much as possible and always use protective measures such as gloves or long-sleeved clothing when handling them.  Additionally, pet owners should ensure their animals are vaccinated regularly against any potential threats posed by wildlife.

What smell do groundhogs hate?

Groundhogs are deterred by strong odors, particularly those of ammonia and garlic. Ammonia is toxic to groundhogs, so it should not be used directly but rather in the form of a spray or diluted solution around the perimeter of an area to keep them away. Garlic has a pungent smell that is also disliked by groundhogs, so crushed garlic can be sprinkled around an area as a deterrent.  Other smelly substances like mothballs and human hair may also work to repel groundhogs from entering certain areas.  It’s important to note that these methods are only temporary solutions and do not permanently solve the problem of groundhog infestation.

Useful Video: Guy Builds Veggie Garden For Family Of Groundhogs | The Dodo


Groundhogs have often misunderstood creatures. They are generally thought of as pests, but they can also be beneficial to humans in certain situations. Groundhogs may dig burrows that can damage gardens and yards, but they also help turn over the soil and aerate it for better growth. Groundhogs are important members of the animal kingdom, and understanding their role can help us better appreciate them as part of our environment. Taking care not to disturb groundhog habitats is one way that we can maintain a healthy ecosystem while still letting these animals exist peacefully around us.


  1. https://animalia.bio/groundhog
  2. https://www.terminix.com/blog/home-garden/what-do-groundhogs-eat/
  3. https://dengarden.com/gardening/How-to-Get-Rid-of-Woodchucks-Ground-Hogs