At first glance, you wouldn’t think that a groundhog is a climbing animal. After all, they’re known for their burrowing. However, because groundhogs seem to easily get into yards, many people wonder do groundhogs climb trees in order to get there.
Groundhogs are seen as nuisances because they can cause great damage to vegetation, soil, and even building foundations. In today’s article, I’ll explain how to recognize their infestations and how to keep them at bay.
Why Do Groundhogs Climb Trees?
Just like other burrowing animals such as skunks, people are often surprised to hear that groundhogs can climb. They are, in fact, not only good at climbing but also at swimming. Groundhogs will do whatever it takes to escape predators, as their fighting capabilities aren’t well developed.
The reason they climb trees is to escape predators and explore their surroundings. They’ll always try to hide as soon as they notice someone or something observing them. Groundhogs will also use trees as vantage points to see what’s happening around them.
If possible, they’ll always return to their burrows when threatened but a tree will do if their burrow is too far away or if it’s been invaded.
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What Damage Do Groundhogs Cause?
Groundhogs are considered to be a serious problem in areas they inhabit because of their burrowing. Their burrows are so extensive, they can undermine the foundations of smaller buildings.
Just to paint a clearer picture of how big their burrows are – groundhogs can build burrows up to 24 feet in length, displacing up to 640 pounds of soil!
They can completely ruin your garden, as their burrows have several entry points. This doesn’t only cause damage to the plants, but also to livestock (if you have any), as both animals and people can break a leg if they step into the hole.
Aside from burrowing, groundhogs can destroy the garden by eating everything. They need to eat about a pound of vegetation a day, and almost everything is on the menu for them.
They’ll chew on the main stems of fruit trees, damaging the tree and making it susceptible to disease.
So – groundhogs are directly responsible for destroying plants, building foundations, and even injuring animals. The story, however, doesn’t end there.
The dens are evacuated for several reasons – flooding or predator invasions being the most common ones. After evacuation, another animal will often make the burrow it’s own.
A groundhog burrow invites foxes, rabbits, skunks, snakes, mice, and other animals that can be dangerous for you or for your crops!
However, there is a silver lining we have to remember! Groundhogs don’t like being near people! No animal likes inhabiting the same space as humans, so in most cases, groundhogs don’t pose problems to people.
If possible, a groundhog will always build a burrow in the wild – not in your garden. And if a groundhog does build a burrow in your garden, it’s not difficult to flush it out for good, which I’ll explain more about later.
Signs That Groundhogs Are In Your Yard
Groundhog burrows aren’t difficult to spot. They always have more than a single entry point – that way, they can escape predators in any direction.
One entrance is the main entrance – this one is usually found by a tree stump, a rock, or some other form of cover. There’ll always be a pile of soil next to it, so it shouldn’t be difficult to spot.
Other entrances are smaller and they’re dug from the inside out, so the soil won’t be there to make them easy to spot.
If you have several holes around your yard and your dog is barking like crazy for seemingly no reason – it’s possible that you have a groundhog infestation.
How To Get a Groundhog Out of Your Yard
Before I move on to keep groundhogs out of your yard permanently, let’s first look at how to get rid of them. I’ve found a few methods to be particularly successful, but make sure to check the legality of each one with local animal control before you take action.
Flush It Out
The only method that’s 100% effective is flushing the groundhog out. Once the water starts coming into a burrow, the groundhog has nowhere to go other than out and it’ll be so startled that it won’t return to that particular burrow again. This is mainly because they dislike flood-prone areas.
My advice here is do not try to catch the groundhog once it leaves its burrow. Catching and releasing animals in the wild is illegal in almost every place on the planet. You don’t know how the animal will affect the local ecosystem. Let the groundhog leave on its own.
Fumigants are the so-called smoke bombs and gas cartridges that are filled with carbon monoxide and can be fatal to groundhogs.
These fumigants are not actual bombs and they won’t really explode, but they’ll release so much smoke that the animal will have to evacuate the den.
You can find these handy solutions at farming stores and gardening stores. Make sure to follow the official instructions when using them.
How To Stop Groundhogs Invading Your Yard
The two best methods you can use are exclusion and scare tactics.
To exclude a groundhog from your yard, you have to build a strong fence. The fence has to be at least 3 feet tall and the top 15 inches need to be bent at a 45° angle to prevent the animals from climbing over.
These steps really are necessary because not only do groundhogs scale trees – they also climb fences. Since they can burrow beneath the fence, you also have to bury them at least a foot into the ground.
The other thing you can do is set up a motion-activated sprinkler or let your dog into the yard. Groundhogs run at the first sign of trouble and this will scare them to death.
FAQ Groundhogs Climbing
Final Thoughts On Groundhogs Climbing Trees
Yes, groundhogs can indeed climb but they only do it to escape predators. They don’t damage the trees by climbing, but by biting on the main stem and leaving an open wound for pathogens.
Luckily, their burrows are easy to spot and they’re easy to scare away. You can flush them out with water or smoke them out, while you can prevent them from returning with a fence or a dog!