As a backyard gardener and animal lover, I’ve always been curious about the dietary habits of the animals that live in my yard. One question that has always lingered in my mind is whether groundhogs eat chickens.
Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, primarily have a herbivorous diet consisting of plants, grasses, and vegetables. They do not typically eat chickens. However, groundhogs may occasionally consume insects or small animals if their preferred food sources are scarce. It is unlikely for a groundhog to prey on chickens, but it is essential to maintain proper fencing and protection for your poultry to avoid any potential risks from various predators.
After doing some research and observing the behaviour of the groundhogs in my yard, I have come to a nuanced answer.
It is not impossible that a groundhog could eat a very young chicken.
Groundhogs are herbivores and primarily eat plants such as grasses, clover, and alfalfa.
However, they have been known to eat insects and small animals on occasion, including bird nestlings.
When groundhogs do eat chickens, they are typically scavenging for eggs or young chicks. Groundhogs are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever food source is available to them if hungry enough.
When and How They Eat
Groundhogs are diurnal animals and are most active during the early and late day hours.
They will typically raid chicken coops during the early morning or late afternoon when the chickens are most active.
They will use their powerful jaws to crack open eggs or attack young chicks.
Why Would They Eat Chickens?
Groundhogs will eat chickens when other food sources are scarce. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever food source is available to them.
Chickens provide a high protein and fat content, which is beneficial for groundhogs during times of food scarcity.
Implications for Backyard Owners
If you are a backyard chicken owner, it is important to take precautions to prevent groundhogs from raiding your coop.
This can include using chicken wire to secure the coop and run, installing motion-activated lights and alarms, and keeping the area around the coop free of debris and vegetation.
Other Animals That Might Eat Chickens
Groundhogs are not the only animals that might eat chickens. Other potential predators include raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey such as hawks and owls.
It is important to be aware of the potential risks to your chickens and take steps to protect them from predators.
How To Keep Groundhogs Out Of Your Yard!
There are several things that can be done to prevent groundhogs from digging and eating stuff in your backyard. I will list some of the strategies below.
Also, see my recent post if you want a full list of my favorite methods to keep groundhogs and gophers away!
1. Using ultrasonic sound
Groundhogs, like other bigger mammals 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.
Check out my full buying guide for these ingenious ultrasonic repeller devices here!
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 from 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.
They will also work against other rodents like gophers, mice, and rats!
2. Sprinkling natural repellents
Groundhogs may be scared off by using natural scents such as coyote urine or predator scents.
They may also cause them to leave if there is a combination of sounds being played from a radio. The sounds include the sound of barking dogs and coyotes.
You can sprinkle dog hair, cayenne pepper or strong enteric oils and other natural repellents around the garden to keep the groundhogs away.
See my complete list of humane ways to keep groundhogs away from your yard for more tips and tricks!
3. Fencing around the garden
You can also fence around your garden to keep groundhogs from entering the garden. It should be at least 3 feet deep and have a double row of fencing.
Groundhogs are good diggers so it has to go underground or they may find a way into the garden even with the fences in place!
4. Using live traps
You can use a live trap to capture groundhogs and move them to another area. Live trapping is currently the most humane way of groundhog control. Once you have removed all groundhogs from an area, it is important to ensure that they do not come back by using fencing or other barriers to block access.
You can also just buy a live trap, as the sturdy metal ones shown here:
To lure the groundhogs in, you can use one of the numerous favorite foods of groundhogs or an optimized extra attractive formula like this one to make the catch even quicker!
5. Using natural pesticides
There are pesticides or rodent toxins that can be used to kill groundhogs on your property. These may also affect other animals in the area so it is important to ensure that they are only sprayed on the targeted plants.
I do not recommend these, as I prefer more humane ways as described here. Also, anything that kills an animal will also harm humans to some degree, so go for a repellant rather than a toxin if you go the chemical route!
6. Using Scarecrows
You can use a scarecrow in your garden to keep groundhogs away. Groundhogs are afraid of novelty so time-sensitive or motion-activated scarecrows may also be effective in keeping them out of the garden.
7. Using Lights
Groundhogs are not strictly nocturnal animals but they are most active at low light so they do avoid areas with bright lights.
Motion-activated lights, sounds, and sprinklers may help prevent groundhogs from entering your yard.
Any blinking light will confuse and scare away groundhogs from your yard, especially if they are motion activated and sudden!
8. 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.
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 garden, and the sprinkler can be rotated 180 degrees for maximum coverage.
Check out my recent post on the best humane, but effective, tactics against rodents like groundhogs and gophers in your yard!
In conclusion, while groundhogs are primarily herbivores, they have been known to eat chickens on occasion.
As backyard owners, it is important to take precautions to prevent groundhogs and other potential predators from raiding your coop.
By doing so, you can help ensure the safety and well-being of your chickens.