Saturday, October 26, 2013

Life Learning Should Ideally Never End...........AKA, Dealing With Groundhogs

          
(Picture by: www.pestremovalatlanta.com )


  I try to learn something every day.  Sometimes I learn more than one thing. Some of the days of my life that have been the hardest have also brought me the most learning.  Today was one of those days when I learned probably only one thing, but a valuable thing it was, and I think I should report it to you.   In the country and in the suburbs in the United States, we have a creature called a groundhog.  For Europeans, it's in the marmot family and it's also called a woodchuck.   Most of the time, these pleasant creatures wander here and create no difficulties, although they can carry rabies.   They are often seen on the forested hilly areas adjacent to the interstate highways in our area of Virginia.   The only reason one might kill one using a firearm is if the creature were clearly rabid, and then it should be done with exceeding care because the splatter would also carry rabies.  Sometimes, groundhogs build themselves a den underneath a house, a garage or an outbuilding. This means you don't just have one creature, but an entire family of them.  In that event, they begin to eat your plants, your vegetables before you can pick them all.  You can plant alfalfa and clover and they will eat that, leaving most of your vegetables alone.  You can also buy  a Have-a-Heart trap and relocate them one at a time, to an even more rural area.  These animals can be 12-17 pounds or sometimes more, and so you'll need a trap of fair size.  However, if you have a large family located under your shed, or your group is too smart to taste the apples or whatever you have baited the trap with, then you might need to do what I learned today.

        Take dirty used cat litter and place it in a Wal-Mart style plastic bag, then double bag it.   You can either use your own cat litter or donate this to the family having the groundhog problem.   Take the bag to the place in which you believe the groundhog is living or nesting.   Then, remove the outer bag you added to prevent the bag from leaking, and drop the remaining bag with the kitty litter in it, into the hole or under the building you believe the groundhogs are using as a safehouse.  The groundhogs will explore and scratch at the bag. It will rupture, and fill their home with feline predator urine and excrement.  They will evacuate their home more quickly than you and I would during a mandatory evacuation.    Pregnant women should not handle used cat litter because of the potential for toxoplasmosis spreading to her unborn child.    Other than this caution, this strategy might save a few of you from having to hire and pay a groundhog whisperer or someone who is paid to relocate the little creatures to..........perhaps the White House ?   I hear they have a vegetable garden.




18 comments:

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

If you get them under a foundation, they can make so many tunnels that the floor will fail. This is what ours did. Our solution was to shoot it. Then I cleaned and cooked it. They are delicious, much like beef. My husband says it tastes a lot like oxtails. I made groundhog and dumplings. You have to do this in season -- yes, there is a groundhog season so have a hunting license and watch your dates.

lotta joy said...

The White House already has a rat, and I hear there are moles, and you want to drop a poor groundhog in there too?

On the other hand, did you learn this through Google, or were you carrying assorted bags of fecal matter out to the groundhogs til you found one that worked? lol

We've got something down in this area that makes horrendous holes with piles of sand around it. Maybe 20 per yard. Some people say they are moles: wrong. I saw one, and whatever it was, it was ugly and larger than any mole I've ever seen. It raised it's head, spit out the sand, and went back to work.

BBC said...

Interesting, when I lived in Eastern Washington we had them in the fields and farmers were more than happy to let us shoot them.

Gorges Smythe said...

You're leaving out a very viable option, this year's animals are delicious, if you remember to take the glands out of the backs of the knees and the "arm-pits." They taste exactly like young coon, beaver or muskrat, and yes, they're ALL delicious. If you like wild rabbit or squirrel, you'll like all the mentioned animals, IF HANDLED PROPERLY!

Dani said...

Lol - I tried exactly that in the field mouse runs. It worked :)

They relocated from under the bushes of the next door field to a pile of left over bricks on the other side of my broad bean bed.

BUT, it DID work!

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for your post, Dani. You raise a good point which is that I think this may need to be done a few times, or perhaps even periodically.

JaneofVirginia said...

Gorges, I think this is an option for those who know how to shoot, skin and cook such creatures. I don't do this, but a lot of people do.

JaneofVirginia said...

This year we have a bumper crop of these and of squirrels. The very wet Spring has resulted in a decrease of their available natural foods and therefore many people in my area are complaining about them. Shooting them is an option, everywhere but the suburbs. Some places have a hunting season for them.

BBC said...

During hard times they would make decent dog and cat food even if I didn't want to eat them myself.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Kathy, This is certainly an option for those of us who are not in suburbs. The kitty litter trick adds one more possible action to our groundhog repertoire !

doublebhomestead said...

Great idea, I have not heard this before. I wonder if that trick will work on skunks? When you have a family of them living under your house you really have a problem!

Sunnybrook Farm said...

To shoot ground hogs you need to use similar tactics to a sniper. Though I learned from my grandfather that if you jump one to run into it's hole that you should ignore it and walk past the hole and turn around and it will come out to see where you went and you can shoot it. Before coyotes they were a major problem and could infest an area cause lots of damage to the ground and to crops. In the old days our family would use the rear legs for food.

Kelly said...

We've had a woodchuck hanging around for the last couple of years. I'm with you on learning new things it was fun to read up about them. They are also called Whistle Pigs LOL! Every morning when I go to milk the goat my little Yorkie takes off into the woods and chases our woodchuck back into it's den. It cracks me up but makes me nervous since the woodchuck is at least twice the size of my dog. We call her Wee the woodchucker :)

JaneofVirginia said...

Most of the time, woodchucks or groundhogs find things to eat and never bother us. In the forty years my parents had their rural home, we always had them, and only once did one need to be shot.

JaneofVirginia said...

Dog and cat food are important considerations, and my dogs and cats are immunized against rabies, and using wildlife for food, rabies is always my concern.

JaneofVirginia said...

There is an old zookeeper's trick. They use the shavings in the area of the lion's urine in the places you don't wish marmots or vermin to live. The funny thing is that for most uses, I am told that cat urine in litter works about as well, although we may need to repeat the treatment.

Sandy said...

Jane,

I loved this post, especially the White House garden.
This evening, I learned something new from you about using used kitty litter to help evacuate pesty groundhogs. Thanks!!!

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks, Sandy ! Sometimes we need to have evacuation plans for our furry neighbors as well as ourselves.