How we came to purchase our home.

WPA Photo

A Works Progress Administration photo offers a glimpse of our home's past.

Reproduction Windsor Chair

Finally, a dining room set.

No Power, No Heat.

Our first snow storm and it's aftermath, October, 2011.

Lead Poisoning

Updates to our son's lead levels.

Bit By Bit

My wife's blog on being pregnant, giving birth and raising our first child with all the complications, hardships and joys that life throws our way.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Groundhogs Breed Like Rabbits

Baby Groundhog Posing
Have you ever seen the cute furry overgrown hamsters in people's backyard and thought, "Aw, their so cute!"? Sure, a groundhog (also called a woodchuck) can be cute (and funny, as in the GEICO commercial from a couple years ago:  Woodchuck Chucking) until these furry critters begin treating your backyard, garden, deck, and foundation as if they were a wedge of Swiss cheese. And they breed like rabbits too! We saw one in the beginning of Spring, then by June, we had SEVEN cute furry babies and mama eating the grass and various other plantings that my wife and I were caring for.  They managed to dig at least two dens which may possibly be linked together.  The entrances of these dens are huge compared to the size of the fur balls.  One entrance was in a large patch of poison ivy. Good, I thought, though I think these things are immune to the effects of the poison as a scare tactic. The other entrance was under a loose stone retaining wall in the back yard.

Mama groundhog being watchful of the weird human taking photos of her babies

I first tried moth balls. A wives tail surely, but people did swear by it. Our groundhogs did not like them though they did not get rid of our uninvited guests. Instead, our ingenious earth dwellers simply pushed the balls out of their dens or buried them. Now our backyard smells like an older person's closet. Our next option was to get a quote for a "professional" to remove them. Speaking with the pro, it was learned that there are two ways to rid our yard, death or relocation. He described what he did for relocation, setting out 7+ traps for a day and coming back. For a fee that was per a trap set, and per an animal captured. With seven groundhogs, the price would've escalated dramatically.

There had to be a better alternative. We did not want to go around placing poison on our property nor shoot each one. Searching online found that there are "groundhog sanctuaries" in our state. Who would've thought? In fact, one is run by the Audubon Society. We got excited and my wife called up the Audubon Society in the neighboring town who quickly quenched our plans to relocate the hoard. After calling several others, we came to the conclusion that nobody wanted to truly "save" the groundhog, just birds, despite sites advertising it. My wife called Town Hall who suggested a relocation in a local park. Done, we'll take that deal. We really didn't have the heart to kill off the family and getting a quote of around $600 to remove the lot was too excessive for our budget.

For $24.57 (taxes included), we were able to rent a Havaheart trap from Ace Hardware's rental section. At $119 retail ($45 on Amazon.com), it's roughly half the online price for one week rental.  In the first couple of hours we caught THIS MAMMA:
Mama groundhog CAPTURED

A half hour later, this little guy was captured:
First of many baby groundhogs CAPTURED
So what do they like to eat?  Aside from all our plantings, romaine lettuce, sliced apples, old fruit, etc.  We used left over foods from our cooking like the previously mentioned ingredients.  In the first two days, we caught at least two a day, eventually catching six cute furry monsters (with one being the mother).  One last monster was elusive and eventually got the hint when his/her siblings kept disappearing.  The aforementioned sibling woodchucks were released two miles away at the nature preserve/walking trail park WITH permission from the town's park commissioner.