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Do Groundhogs Abandon or Reuse Their Burrows? (Answered!)




Groundhogs are a common sight in many yards and gardens, but have you ever wondered if they abandon or reuse their burrows?

Groundhogs do indeed reuse their burrow and even other groundhogs abandoned burrows! Knowing the answer is key for understanding how to protect your yard from these pesky creatures. In this article, we’ll look at what groundhog burrows are, whether they’re reused by other animals than groundhogs and how best to prevent new ones from moving into your garden.

We’ll also discuss what steps should be taken if an active groundhog den is discovered on your property. By the end of it all, you will know exactly do when it comes to dealing with unwanted visitors like these!

Groundhog Burrows: What Are They?

Groundhog burrows are tunnels dug by groundhogs, also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs. These burrows provide shelter and protection from predators for the animals that live in them.

Understanding how these burrows work can help you protect your property from damage caused by groundhogs.

Anatomy of a Groundhog Burrow

Groundhog burrows typically have two entrances and one main chamber, although some may have more than one chamber. The entrance is usually about 12 inches wide and 8 to 10 inches high, while the main chamber is often around 4 feet deep and 2 feet wide.

The walls of the tunnel are lined with grasses, leaves, fur, feathers, or other materials to insulate it against cold temperatures in winter months. There may be several side chambers off of the main tunnel used for nesting or storing food supplies like nuts and berries during hibernation season.

Location of Groundhog Burrows

Groundhogs prefer to dig their burrows near open fields where they can easily access vegetation for food sources such as clover or alfalfa plants.

They will also build their homes close to water sources like streams or ponds so they can stay hydrated throughout the summer months when food is scarce.

If you find a large mound of dirt near an open field on your property then chances are there’s a groundhog living nearby!

Purpose of Groundhog Burrows

The primary purpose of groundhog burrows is to provide shelter from predators such as foxes and coyotes, who hunt them for food during the springtime when young pups emerge from hibernation season into adulthood.

Groundhogs build sophisticated tunnel systems to keep them safe (and cosy!).

Furthermore, these tunnels offer protection against extreme weather conditions, like heavy rainstorms.

Rainstorms or flooding could otherwise drown out animals with more shallow tunnels built at a higher level by other small mammals like rabbits or chipmunks that do not dig deep enough underground dwellings for themselves but instead rely on natural cover provided by trees or shrubs.

Groundhogs can stay underground for months on end, and they also have systems in place to prevent flooding of their tunnels.

Groundhog burrows are a fascinating part of nature, and they can provide valuable insights into the behavior of these small mammals. Next, let’s explore whether groundhogs abandon or reuse their burrows.

Key Takeaway: Groundhog burrows are tunnels dug by groundhogs to provide shelter and protection from predators. They typically have two entrances and one main chamber, which is usually around 4 feet deep and 2 feet wide. Groundhogs prefer to dig their burrows near open fields with access to vegetation for food sources as well as water sources like streams or ponds. The primary purpose of these burrows is to offer protection against extreme weather conditions and predators.

Do Groundhogs Reuse Their Burrows?

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks or whistle-pigs, are burrowing animals that can cause damage to lawns and gardens. But do groundhogs reuse their burrows? The answer is yes, but it depends on a few factors.

Factors That Influence Reuse: Groundhogs will typically reuse their burrows if they feel safe and secure in the area. If there are predators around or the environment is not suitable for them, they may abandon the burrow and move elsewhere.

Additionally, groundhog populations tend to be seasonal; during certain times of year more groundhogs will be present than others which can influence whether a particular burrow gets reused or not.

Signs of Reused Burrows: A telltale sign that a groundhog has been using its old burrow again is fresh dirt outside the entrance of the hole. Other signs include tracks leading into and out of the hole as well as droppings near the entrance.

You may also see vegetation being eaten away from around where you suspect a groundhog lives since these animals like to graze on grasses and other plants nearby their homes.

One way to determine if a groundhog is reusing its old home is by setting up motion-activated cameras near suspected areas where these animals live.

This method allows you to get an accurate picture of what is going on with your local population without having to interact with any wild creatures directly, which should always be avoided whenever possible.

Additionally, listening for whistling noises coming from underground could indicate that there is an active den in your yard since this sound usually indicates when one animal has encountered another while living underground together peacefully or otherwise.

Groundhogs can be quite territorial when it comes to their burrows, and while they may abandon them at times, they also have the potential to reuse them. Next we’ll look at what factors influence groundhog burrow reuse.

Key Takeaway: Groundhogs will typically reuse their burrows if they feel safe and secure in the area. Signs of reused burrows include fresh dirt outside the entrance, tracks leading into and out of the hole, droppings near the entrance, and vegetation being eaten away from around where you suspect a groundhog lives. Motion-activated cameras can be used to get an accurate picture of what is going on with your local population without having to interact directly with any wild creatures.

Why Do Groundhogs Reuse Their Burrows?

As fall approaches, groundhogs will begin to prepare for winter by stockpiling food and creating new burrows. Groundhogs typically live in pairs or small family groups, but during the winter they will hibernate alone.

Each groundhog will create several entrances to their burrow so that they can escape if predators come too close. When spring arrives, the groundhogs will leave their burrows in search of mates.

Once mating season is over, the female groundhogs will return to their old burrows with their young and continue to use them until the next generation is ready to strike out on their own.

The reason why these furry little creatures reuse their homes every year as opposed to making a fresh start each time may not be immediately obvious, but it turns out that there are several good reasons for it!

For one thing, establishing a new home takes quite a bit of time and effort—something that groundhogs would rather avoid if they don’t have to.

Additionally, an established burrow provides some level of protection from both the weather and potential predators.

Finally, living in close proximity to previous residents means that there is already a network of tunnels connecting different parts of the territory which makes getting around much easier (and safer) than having to tunnel everything anew each time!

Key Takeaway: Groundhogs will reuse their burrows every year because it’s easier and safer than making a new one.

How to Prevent New Groundhogs From Moving In?

To prevent new groundhogs from moving into your yard, it is important to understand the behavior of these animals and take steps to deter them.

Eliminating Food Sources and Shelter: Groundhogs are attracted to yards that offer food sources or shelter. Keeping grass short and removing any debris or fallen fruit will help discourage groundhogs from making a home in your yard.

Additionally, keeping pet food indoors and away from potential burrows will also reduce the likelihood of attracting groundhogs.

Covering Up Old Burrows: Groundhogs may reuse old burrows when looking for a place to live, so it is important to cover up any existing burrow entrances with dirt or rocks before attempting other methods of deterrence.

This will ensure that even if the animal returns, it won’t be able to access its former den site.

If you have already taken steps to eliminate food sources and cover up old burrows but still find yourself dealing with unwanted visitors, using traps or repellents may be necessary as a last resort.

Humanely trapping an animal is often more effective than trying chemical repellents alone since these products usually need frequent reapplication due to weather conditions or wear-and-tear over time; however, it should be noted that traps can cause harm both physically and emotionally for the animal involved.

By taking proactive steps to eliminate food sources, cover up old burrows and use traps or repellents, hikers can prevent new groundhogs from moving into their area. Next, let’s look at how we can safely remove existing groundhogs from the area.

What to Do If You Find an Active Groundhog Burrow on Your Property

If you find an active groundhog burrow on your property, it is important to assess the damage caused by the animals and take action to remove them and repair any damage.

Assessing the Damage Caused by the Groundhogs: The first step in dealing with a groundhog problem is assessing the extent of their activity. Look for signs of digging or tunneling around your yard, such as freshly turned soil or disturbed vegetation.

Also check for holes that have been dug under fences or decks, which can be used as entry points into your home or garden. If you find evidence of gnawing on wood structures like decks or sheds, this could indicate a more serious infestation.

In addition to physical damage, groundhogs may also spread diseases through their droppings and urine so it’s important to identify these areas and take steps to clean them up safely. But they will rarely bite pets or humans.

Once you have identified where the groundhogs are living and what kind of damage they have caused, it is time to take action.

Depending on how extensive their activity has been, there are several methods available for removing them from your property including live traps, repellents, fencing off vulnerable areas and even professional extermination services if necessary.

After successfully removing all animals from your property it is essential that you fill in any burrows with dirt or gravel in order to prevent new ones from being created again in future seasons.

Finally make sure that any damaged structures are repaired properly before winter sets in so that no further harm can come from hibernating wildlife during cold months ahead.

If you find an active groundhog burrow on your property, it’s important to assess the damage they may have caused and take action to remove them and repair any destruction. Next, we’ll look at how groundhogs use their burrows over time.

Key Takeaway: Groundhogs can cause significant damage to your property, so it is important to assess the extent of their activity and take action to remove them. This includes using live traps, repellents, fencing off vulnerable areas or professional extermination services if necessary. After removing all animals from your property, fill in any burrows with dirt or gravel and repair any damaged structures before winter sets in.

How to Prevent Groundhogs from Entering Your Yard In The First Place

If you’ve had a groundhog living in your yard, you know how destructive they can be. Not only do they dig holes that can trip you up, but their burrowing can damage the foundation of your home.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent groundhogs from moving in.

To start, you’ll need to make your yard less inviting to groundhogs. There are many factors that attracts groundhogs to a yard.

What Attracts groundhogs To Your backyard
Several things attract groundhogs to your yard!

This includes pet food, bird seed from bird feeders, and fallen fruit from trees. You should also keep your trash cans sealed as they may scavenge human foods as well and pick up any fallen leaves or other debris.

Next, you’ll need to make it harder for groundhogs to dig holes in your yard. One way to do this is to install a fence around your property.

Instead of killing groundhogs, I would strongly recommend one of the very effective solutions listed below:

1. Ultrasonic Sound Emitters

Groundhogs and groundhogs, as well as other animals that may invade your garden, tend to have very good hearing. This means that loud or consistent noises will scare them away or at least shorten their visits significantly!

One of my favorite technologies to keep pests away from my backyard is these cool solar-powered ultrasonic sound emitters that you can buy right off Amazon! In my experience, they really work, and the solar panels on top save you the time and money of changing batteries all the time.  

My favorite ultrasonic emitters. Click to read more at Amazon.

These are effective and passive instruments that will surely deter groundhogs from your yard. The number you need to place depends on the size of your yard and how deep the tunnels of the groundhogs are.

2. Motion-activated sprinklers

Like most animals, groundhogs hate surprises, and they will run away if suddenly sprayed with water. I like this solution because it is humane, simple, effective, and does not require much time to set up and there are many models to choose from.

My favorite sprinkler option here is the Havahart 5277.

The Havahart 5277 is a motion-activated sprinkler that is activated by the movement of animals up to 25 feet away and sprays them with a harmless water jet, frightening them off and keeping them at bay.

The included metal stake makes it easy to install in your backyard, and the sprinkler can be rotated 180 degrees for maximum coverage.

3. Using Lights and Reflections

Groundhogs are nocturnal animals so they may avoid areas that have bright lights. Motion-activated lights, sounds, and sprinklers may help prevent groundhogs from entering your yard.

Placing CDs or tin foil and mirrors around your yard is another cheap and effective way to create light reflections that blind and scare groundhogs.

This may sound a little old-fashioned but it still works! The reflective surface of CDs or tin foil drives groundhogs crazy and will make them seek away from your plants.

You can use old CDs you no longer need or aluminum trays from takeaway containers, just make sure they reflect light well.

If you have a lot of plants to protect this way, it may be a good idea to invest in some commercial mirrors or electronic light emitters like the ones shown above.

4. Build a Fence

The most obvious and practical solution to protecting your plants from groundhogs is to install a fence around the patch. A fence should be at least 2 feet tall and sunk in the ground about 8 inches.

The best fencing material for this purpose is a cattle panel or hog panel as they are very sturdy and can withstand even quadruped animals such as goats, cows, and deer. However, most chicken fencing types will do. This will be strong enough to stop them from getting through while still allowing for airflow and sunlight.

A simple fence like this should work.

If you don’t like the idea of building a fence around your entire onion patch then you can try fencing off only the area that your onions, tomatoes, or zucchinis are in; this will at least keep some of the groundhogs or groundhogs away from them.

5. Using Hot Pepper Or Garlic Spray

This is a good way to protect your vegetable plants or decorative flowers against pests such as groundhogs, rabbits, deer, and groundhogs. It will also protect your backyard against the neighbor’s cat that thinks it is fine to use your vegetable garden as a toilet.

You only need about 1 tablespoon of crushed chili pepper and garlic along with 1 cup of vinegar per half a gallon of water.

Spray this mixture on any exposed parts of the plant until completely covered. Make sure you reapply whenever rain washes away the spray.

You can also buy natural repellants like the one shown here from Amazon. (Click for price).

6. Use Rodent Deterring Companion Plants

Instead of making a tincture out of strongly smelling plants, you can also just plant the plants themselves!

Companion planting is a good way of deterring animals like groundhogs from your garden. You can plant strong-smelling plants such as garlic, basil, lavender, and chives around your favorite vegetables.

These plants will keep rodents like groundhogs, groundhogs, and mice away because they don’t like the smell of these and they mask the smell of the delicious plants.

7. Using Artificial Repellent

You can use some of the commercially available repellents to protecting your vegetable plants against groundhogs, groundhogs, and other rodents.

You will need to be careful when using these though because some of them can end up harming you and your pets if not applied properly. Some of the commercial groundhog repellents available include Shake-Away, Bonide Repels All, Critter Ridder, and Tom Cate Repellent.

8. Using a Scarecrow

Scarecrows may look a little funny in your garden, but they work surprisingly well. Just make sure your scarecrow is big and scary enough to deter groundhogs from getting anywhere near your tomatoes, zucchini, or backyard flowers! Also, you may need to replace the scarecrow every now and then as groundhogs will get used to it.

A scary owl will help prevent rodents from invading your backyard!

9. Using live traps

Using live traps to catch the groundhog and drive it away to somewhere safe, but far away, is perhaps the best option if you want to get completely rid of groundhogs in your yard!

You can make a trap yourself with some wire and ingenuity…

But, you can also just buy a live trap, like the sturdy metal ones shown here:

A live groundhog trap is a humane way to get permanently rid of groundhogs in your yard.

A version with thick gloves for safe handling.

Groundhog Burrow FAQs

What Happens to Unused or Abandoned Burrows

When groundhogs abandon their burrows, other animals may move in and make use of the space. Animals such as foxes, weasels, skunks, and opossums have all been known to take up residence in old groundhog holes.

While some animals will simply move into an abandoned burrow and make it their own, others will actually evict the previous occupants before taking over the home.

Do groundhogs use the same burrow?

Yes, groundhogs use the same burrow. They are known to dig extensive tunnel systems and will often return to the same burrow for shelter or protection from predators.

Groundhogs can live in their burrows year-round and may stay in them for weeks at a time during cold weather months.

They also use these tunnels as a way of travelling between food sources, such as gardens or fields, without being seen by potential predators.

Do groundhogs use old burrows?

Yes, groundhogs do use old burrows. They are known to inhabit and reuse the same burrow for several years. Groundhogs will often dig new tunnels or expand existing ones in order to make them more suitable for their needs.

These animals also have a tendency to move around and explore different areas, so they may choose an abandoned burrow as their home if it is located in a desirable area. In addition, groundhogs will sometimes take over another animal’s den if they find it empty or unoccupied.

Will groundhogs return to the same place?

Groundhogs are known to return to the same area if it is a safe and comfortable environment for them. They typically create burrows in areas with plenty of vegetation, such as grassy fields or wooded areas.

Groundhogs will also often establish multiple dens in their home range so they can move between them when necessary. While groundhogs may not always return to the exact same spot, they do tend to stay within a certain radius of their original den site.

What do groundhogs do with the dirt they dig?

Groundhogs dig burrows and tunnels in the ground for shelter, protection from predators, and to raise their young. The dirt they dig is used to create a mound of soil around the entrance of their burrow.

This helps insulate them from cold temperatures and provides camouflage against potential predators.

They also use the dirt to line their den with a soft bedding material that keeps them warm during hibernation periods. Groundhogs may also use some of the dirt they have dug up as food storage or even nesting material for raising young.


Groundhog burrows are complex underground structures that provide shelter and protection for groundhogs. They can be found in a variety of locations, including near homes and gardens. While groundhogs may reuse their burrows, it is not always the case. Factors such as food availability and climate can influence whether or not they will return to an old burrow site.

To prevent new groundhogs from moving into your yard, you should eliminate food sources and cover up any existing burrows with soil or other materials. If you find an active groundhog burrow on your property, assess the damage caused by the animals before taking action to remove them and repair any damage done.

Knowledge of groundhog behavior can be beneficial for both humans and wildlife, as it can help prevent potential conflicts between people’s yards and wild animal habitats. Identifying signs of reused burrows, deterring new animals from entering one’s property, or safely removing unwanted pests are all measures that can ensure everyone’s safety while also protecting our environment.

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