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Do Groundhogs Eat Sweet Potatoes? (Answered!)




Yes, groundhogs do eat sweet potatoes. They’re quite fond of them and a variety of other root vegetables common in North American gardens.

If you’ve ever found a few chewed-up sweet potatoes in your garden and wondered about the culprits, chances are high that these furry creatures might be behind the mischief.

As a professional biologist and an avid gardener, I’ve personally witnessed the tenacity of groundhogs. They are incredibly skilled foragers, often opting for the juiciest and most nutritious vegetables in our gardens.

Let’s dive into the world of groundhogs, their appetite for sweet potatoes, and how you can structure your garden in a way that’s less attractive to them without deterring them.

The Groundhog’s Palate

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, have a varied diet that extends beyond grasses and plants. In my years of gardening, I’ve seen them munch on carrots, beans, peas, and of course, sweet potatoes.

The starchy goodness of sweet potatoes probably offers them a lot of energy, which is crucial for these creatures, especially as they prepare for hibernation.

Now, if you’re wondering why groundhogs are so taken with sweet potatoes, you might want to try them fresh from the garden.

The freshly harvested, home-grown sweet potato is earthy, slightly sweet, and incredibly rich in flavor. I’ve baked, mashed, and grilled them and each time I’m reminded of why they’re a favorite in my garden – and a clear choice for the groundhogs!

Structuring Your Garden Against Groundhogs

Now, while we appreciate and respect these creatures, we don’t necessarily want them feasting on our hard-earned produce. The key lies in structuring your garden in a manner that doesn’t seem appealing to groundhogs. Here are a few techniques I’ve employed:

Raised Beds

Elevating your garden beds makes it a bit more challenging for groundhogs to access them. My personal experience has shown that while they can climb, they prefer easy access to their food.

Protective Barriers

Instead of attempting to keep groundhogs out, which can be a challenge, consider protecting your most prized vegetables. I often place cages or protective netting around my sweet potatoes and other root vegetables. This doesn’t deter the groundhog but makes it harder for them to reach the veggies.

Diverse Planting

Groundhogs have preferences. By planting a diverse range of vegetables, there’s a chance they might opt for something easier to access than digging up your sweet potatoes. I’ve often found that they prefer leafy greens over the effort it takes to dig up roots.

Garden Layout

I’ve found success in placing my root vegetables closer to my home and the more easily accessible plants further out. Groundhogs are naturally wary creatures and may think twice about venturing too close to human activity.

How Can I Keep Groundhogs Away Without Changing My Backyard?

There are several things that can be done to prevent groundhogs from digging 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.

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.  

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

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.

Groundhogs hate the scent of strong etheric oils.

You can sprinkle dog hair, cayenne pepper or strong etheric 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.

A good deep (underground) fence will keep groundhogs out!

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:

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.

5. Using 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.

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 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.

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.

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 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!


Groundhogs and sweet potatoes – it’s a love story as old as time (or at least as old as North American gardening).

While we love our garden produce, we need to understand and respect the nature of these creatures. By structuring our gardens smartly, we can coexist and even reduce the likelihood of a groundhog feast.

Here’s a quick listicle for all you keen gardeners:

  1. Groundhogs love sweet potatoes and many other root vegetables.
  2. Elevated or raised garden beds can reduce their access.
  3. Protective barriers around specific plants can save your harvest.
  4. A diverse garden can divert their attention.
  5. Groundhogs prefer easy access; make it slightly challenging for them.
  6. They are wary of human activity, use this to your advantage.
  7. Sweet potatoes are energy-packed, making them a choice food for many animals.
  8. Freshly harvested sweet potatoes are a delight for human palates too.
  9. Groundhogs, like all creatures, are driven by basic needs; understanding this can help in coexistence.
  10. Coexistence is possible with a bit of planning and understanding.

Happy gardening and may your sweet potatoes thrive (and stay in your kitchen and not in the belly of a groundhog)!

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