How Much Does Groundhog Removal Cost?
Harbingers of spring, groundhogs are cute and inquisitive, but they can destroy a garden in a short period of time. In most cases, removal costs between $150 and $200, with a national average groundhog removal cost of $175.
- Groundhog removal typically costs between $150 and $200, and the national average groundhog removal cost is $175.
- A number of factors can affect groundhog removal cost, including the removal method, the size of the colony, the location of the groundhog, the removal company used, the frequency of the service, and the cost of labor.
- There are several signs that a homeowner may need groundhog removal, including holes in the yard, signs of digging, a high-pitched whistling sound, and live groundhog sightings.
- Groundhog removal is a task best left to a professional wildlife removal service that can trap and relocate the animal without causing it harm. In some areas, it’s illegal for a homeowner to relocate a groundhog themselves.
More than just the subject of a popular movie and the focus of the nation every February, groundhogs are frequent visitors to yards that have “edge,” or locations where woodsy areas bump up against more open areas. Groundhogs love to dig and are very, very good at it. And they love sweet fruits and vegetables, which makes them the nemesis of every backyard gardener and many a farmer. Their tunnels, while offering safe havens for the groundhogs and other hibernators during the winter, can create voids under the soil that can lead to the collapse of fences and potentially small outbuildings, and their drive to eat when not hibernating can push them to destroy plant after plant. For some homeowners, having a groundhog in the yard is a matter of curiosity, as long as there aren’t free-range pets or small children that might pick up the rabies that groundhogs often carry. For others, groundhogs are just large rodents that weaken the soil and the roots of plants, and they need to go. Fortunately for those wondering how to get rid of groundhogs, they’re fairly easy for a professional to catch and remove. According to Angi, groundhog removal cost falls between $150 and $200, with a national average cost of $175.
Factors in Calculating Groundhog Removal Cost
While capturing individual groundhogs isn’t particularly difficult, there are a number of considerations that affect the overall cost of removing them from the area. These factors can significantly affect the budget, so it’s a good idea for a homeowner to have a sense of groundhog removal costs before calling a professional.
Learning how to get rid of a groundhog in your backyard is pretty straightforward. Groundhogs can be trapped and relocated, driven out of their burrows and pushed away with repellents, or exterminated. Because the animals do contribute to local ecosystems, choosing an exterminator for groundhogs should be considered by a homeowner only as a last resort. Some methods of driving groundhogs out of their burrows can be free of cost, while other options such as using repellents as well as trapping and relocating are a little more expensive: Groundhogs must be relocated at least 100 miles away, or they will return to their burrow. The cost of setting traps and the cost of hiring a pro to remove the groundhogs are higher than the cost of exterminating them, but removal and relocation are better for the environment and kinder to the animal.
Groundhogs usually reproduce in their second year and have an average of six babies per litter. The colonies can grow quickly, and the larger the colony, the more expensive the removal will be. Capturing and relocating a single groundhog is pretty simple, but capturing a large family of antisocial animals living in an elaborate tunnel system under the ground will be much more expensive. A small colony with only one or two animals can cost as little as $100 to remove, while removal of a large colony can cost as much as $600.
If the groundhog in question is the first in the neighborhood, one visit from the groundhog removal specialist will probably solve the problem. If, however, the land is particularly attractive to groundhogs—a combination of open space and woodlands, which describes a lot of suburban areas and golf courses—groundhogs may be pervasive, and eliminating them may require a monthly, seasonal, or quarterly contract with a wildlife removal service to treat the yard and relocate or repel groundhogs regularly. Contracts cost more overall but are far less expensive in the long run than repeated single-service appointments. Treatment once per year costs an average of $100, while a monthly contract costs between $480 and $540, a significant savings over scheduling 12 onetime service calls.
The work involved in removing a groundhog depends somewhat on where the groundhog has built its den. Easy-to-access areas and areas that a contractor can easily excavate underneath make for less costly removals: Decks average from $100 to $200, crawl spaces from $125 to $300, and open lawn space from $150 to $300. Groundhogs that have set up their burrow underneath a shed or in and underneath the foundation of a home present a much greater challenge, so those removals will cost more: up to $325 for a shed and up to $500 for a foundation.
|Average Cost of Removal
|$100 to $200
|$125 to $300
|$300 to $500
|$150 to $300
|$200 to $325
Each wildlife removal company will have its own pricing structure, and some nationally branded companies trade on the familiarity of their name. It can be difficult to compare costs between companies, because some offer only custom-designed packages, while others have set prices that may include services that aren’t needed. Some of the best wildlife removal services, such as Terminix and Critter Control, will be competitive, and smaller local companies may be great options with lower costs, especially if groundhogs are prevalent in the area. Because it’s difficult to assess costs in general, it’s a good plan to seek inspections and estimates from several companies to compare what the services and groundhog removal pricing for each specific situation will be.
Some removal companies will offer a contract that includes labor, while others will charge separately for labor on top of the cost of the removal procedure itself. Labor costs for pest removal will vary by region and may also vary based on the type of removal, but on average, labor costs between $50 and $75 per hour. Before homeowners sign a contract, it is important for them to be clear about how these costs are assessed so there are no surprises later on.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The actual removal of the groundhog infestation will have a clear and contracted cost. However, there are other ancillary costs that may be necessary as part of the removal process or cleanup. These additional considerations can add up quickly, so it’s key for homeowners to take them into account in order to maintain a budget.
Plants that have been eaten, ridges and holes in the grass, quick visions of an animal trundling along the edge of the yard—but is it a groundhog? Homeowners may be unsure of the differences between gophers and groundhogs and think the former is the cause of their problems rather than the latter. Alternatively, a homeowner may assume the animal on their property is a groundhog when in fact they’ll need to determine how to get rid of a possum. Before researching ways to get rid of groundhogs, it’s probably a good idea for a homeowner to call a professional to assess the situation, confirm what kind of animal is in the yard, and provide an idea of how extensive the problem might be. Groundhog inspections cost an average of $50 to $100. Should the customer choose to hire the company to do the removal, the inspection cost may be waived or applied to the total cost of the removal project. If not, the customer will still have confirmation of what kind of animal is in their yard and a tool to help them budget.
Groundhogs can cause catastrophic damage to a home’s foundations if left to their own devices. Those repair costs can reach $4,500 if the damage is extensive. Damage to the yard will cost around $15 per cubic yard to fill tunnels and regrade, while damage to the lawn will probably require reseeding and resodding, which will cost $0.10 to $0.20 and $1 to $2 per square foot, respectively.
|Average Cost for Repair
|$500 to $4,500
|$2 to $4 per square foot
|$0.10 to $0.20 per square foot
|$1 to $2 per square foot
|$15 per cubic yard
If the groundhog needs to be relocated, the cost may be part of the contract or may be assessed separately at a cost of about $0.50 per mile outside the service area.
Types of Groundhog Removal Methods
There are three primary methods of removing groundhogs from a property: relocation, repellent, and extermination. Relocation and repellent are vastly preferable to extermination because they protect the animal—which, while annoying and damage-causing, is just doing what animals naturally do. These methods also maintain a balance in the ecosystem and are safer all around. Extermination is appropriate only if the animal is aggressive, or obviously rabid or manages to return repeatedly.
|Groundhog Removal Method
|$150 to $300
|$100 to $175
|Live trap and relocation
|$150 to $250
|$75 to $100
Live Trap and Relocation
Live trapping involves baiting a humane trap with appealing food (usually fruit) and placing it near a known burrow. When the groundhog enters the trap to find the snack, the door will close behind it, and escape will be impossible. The groundhog must then be relocated to an appropriate habitat at least 100 miles from the original location—otherwise the animal may find its way back home. The cost for a professional to provide this service averages between $150 and $250. The cost is higher than the cost of other methods because of the transportation fees. Before trapping and relocating a groundhog without professional assistance, homeowners are advised to consult local authorities about any regulations guiding where the groundhogs can be relocated.
When relocation isn’t an option, or when less-aggressive methods are preferable, repellents can be applied to make the yard or garden less hospitable for the groundhogs. There are natural groundhog repellents such as lavender, garlic, and pepper, along with castor oil and predator scents like soiled kitty litter that a homeowner can place around the burrow hole. Groundhogs don’t like those scents and, if given the opportunity to leave with the scent still at some distance, may not return. Some chemical repellents include poisons, but ideally the repellents simply make the available vegetation smell and taste unappealing to the groundhog. These are not DIY-friendly products: They should be applied only by professionals, as some of the chemicals may be irritating or dangerous to humans or pets. The cost of a repellent treatment ranges from $75 to $100.
For a larger underground infestation, fumigants are an option. This process involves sealing the groundhog tunnels and burrows as much as possible, then pumping gas into the burrow that should kill any groundhogs that are inside the burrow if it is fully sealed. However, groundhog burrows can be very extensive—some are as large as 12 inches in diameter—and they can link up and network through a whole yard, so sealing them well can be impossible. When that happens, there may not be enough concentrated gas to kill the groundhogs, although the experience may be unpleasant enough that the groundhog decides to relocate on its own. The cost to fumigate groundhog burrows typically ranges from $150 to $300.
A groundhog lethal trap is a contraption that is guided by state and local laws. In most cases, lethal trapping is permissible only if the groundhog is causing serious damage to the property. Lethal traps are baited with food and placed near burrows, and they kill the animal quickly once it is caught. Because these traps kill the animal and thus do not require relocation, they’re slightly less expensive than live traps, ringing up at $100 to $175.
Do I Need Groundhog Removal?
With so many critters running around the backyard, how does a homeowner know if groundhogs are among the guests? In addition to homeowners actually spotting and identifying a groundhog, there are some telltale signs that groundhogs are present.
Holes in the Yard
Groundhog burrows have openings in various places through a yard. These openings aren’t the small holes that squirrels dig when hiding food or the holes that skunks dig while hunting grubs. Groundhogs aren’t small animals, so the opening they need to enter their burrows can be as large as a foot across, and they’re not disguised—the dirt excavated to create the opening is often piled nearby.
Signs of Digging
Groundhogs dig—it’s how they cause damage. Long claws make excellent little tools to dig into dirt, but groundhogs are also happy to rub their claws and teeth against wood. Porches, sheds, decks, and even siding are appealing options for most groundhogs to scratch and dig at. While there are other animals that dig, groundhogs often leave little pawprints in the dirt they dig up: Their front paws have four toes, and their rear paws have five, which can distinguish the signs of groundhog digging from that of moles.
High-Pitched Whistling Sound
When they feel threatened or alarmed, groundhogs emit a distinctive high-pitched whistling sound that ranges from a chittering noise that almost sounds like a bird to a sustained high-pitched noise similar to that of a gym teacher’s whistle. In some parts of the country, groundhogs are referred to as “whistle pigs,” which sounds ridiculous until one hears them make their distinctive sound. It is not the sound one might expect to come out of an animal that looks like a groundhog, but it’s unique enough that it stands out from other backyard sounds.
Live Groundhog Sightings
The clearest indication that groundhogs are present is live sightings of the animals. Mostly brown and low to the ground, with the face of a large squirrel and a trundling gait sometimes augmented by a bit of a loping run, groundhogs will skirt the edge of an open space until they can’t, and they will then scurry in a straight line toward their destination. The animals are skinny in the early spring when they’ve just emerged from hibernation and much more rotund by the late summer.
Groundhog Removal: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Can groundhog removal be a DIY job? In theory, yes. Live traps aren’t hard to find, and they’re easy to set and use. Transporting and releasing a live, angry groundhog needs to be done with some care, though, as they can carry disease and may fight. However, there are some potential roadblocks: Groundhog relocation is restricted in many areas, so a DIY homeowner will need to research the laws guiding where the groundhog can be released and whether trapping by an unlicensed homeowner is actually legal. In addition, the cost of the trap and the time spent setting and checking the trap in addition to relocating the animal may come close to the cost of hiring a pro and thereby reducing the time and stress of the operation. Lethal traps may seem appealing to some, but it’s important to remember that these aren’t mice: they’re much larger, and if they aren’t killed immediately by the impact of the trap, the process of killing and removing the animal from the trap may be more than a DIY homeowner bargained for. If a homeowner is going to try to remove the groundhog themselves, it’s a good idea for them to figure out how to get rid of a groundhog without killing it.
Extensive infestations, especially if they involve structures, are exclusively the job for a professional wildlife specialist. Groundhogs may look cute, but they’re wild animals, so while the temptation to save a few dollars through DIY is strong, it’s probably best to hire someone who has experience dealing with wildlife. The process will end better for both the animal and the homeowner.
How to Save Money on Groundhog Removal Cost
While groundhogs aren’t expensive animals to evict, there are always ways to save a few dollars and various options to try before embarking on a removal.
- Frighten them away. Groundhogs are tentative animals and can be easily scared. Try frightening them away by attaching mylar balloons or suspending a beach ball near their burrow where the items will catch the wind and bounce around.
- Tidy your yard. Remove vegetation from the areas around the burrow openings. This can make the groundhog feel vulnerable enough to relocate.
- Secure burrows. Prevent groundhogs from returning to abandoned burrows by filling the burrow openings with a large piece of heavy wire screening before filling the holes with dirt.
- Flush them out. Flood the burrows with water. The animals will be driven out and may choose not to return.
- Act quickly. If these measures don’t work promptly, call a wildlife specialist as soon as possible. It’s much easier and less costly for a specialist to remove one groundhog. Once the community has grown, the cost jumps exponentially.
- Take on some of the work. Repair some of the groundhog yard damage yourself: Learn how to fill groundhog holes, use a heavy roller on the lawn to collapse some of the tunnels, and reseed the lawn yourself.
Questions to Ask About Groundhog Removal
It’s important for customers to understand how a wildlife specialist or a company providing pest control for groundhogs will handle the animals, regardless of whether they’re hired to exterminate or relocate. Responsible customers will ask questions about the treatment of the animals and the processes involved before signing a contract.
- Are you and your workers insured and licensed?
- What kind of training do your technicians have?
- Do you often handle wildlife, or is your focus mostly on insects and house rodents?
- How do you recommend proceeding with the removal?
- Do you recommend extermination over relocation, and if so, why?
- Do you recommend relocation over extermination, and if so, why?
- Where and how will you relocate the animal?
- Is the treatment future-proof, or might the animal return?
- How is payment handled?
Groundhogs can be cute, furry nuisances, but for farmers and gardeners, they’re destructive pests. Removing them from a property can be a hassle, but the first question is whether or not the groundhogs need to be removed. These are some often-asked questions and their answers to help homeowners decide what to do.
Q. Should I remove groundhogs myself?
It’s possible to use humane traps to live-capture a groundhog and relocate it. The transportation of groundhogs is guided by laws or ordinances in most areas where they thrive, so it’s important for homeowners to research those guidelines and follow them carefully. Homeowners will also want to bear in mind the answer to the question “Do groundhogs carry diseases?”, which is yes: rabies and tularemia, plus disease-carrying ticks that often latch on to groundhogs as well. That’s why it’s important to be careful when transporting groundhogs.
Q. Do groundhogs attack humans?
Are groundhogs dangerous? Unless they feel extremely threatened, no—groundhogs will not attack humans. In fact, they want as little to do with humans as possible. The only physical threats groundhogs present to humans are ticks that ride on them, and the possibility of rabies and tularemia.
Q. Are groundhogs a pest?
Yes and no. On the one hand, they aerate soil and stay away from humans as much as possible. For gardeners and farmers, however, they’re a destructive nuisance. They can easily burrow under fences, and they spend every waking moment when they’re not hibernating eating to fatten themselves for the long sleep. What do they eat? Any handy vegetable, fruits, flower, stem, or tree is a tasty snack for a groundhog. Groundhogs can decimate a garden and elude farmers as they munch their way through a crop. It’s no wonder some homeowners find groundhogs to be pests due to frustration of seeing a whole garden destroyed overnight.
Q. Can a groundhog kill a dog?
Not directly: most groundhogs will not seek out a fight with a dog and will fight only if attacked. They have long, sharp teeth that can do damage to a dog if the groundhog bites during a fight, and when threatened, groundhogs are fierce fighters. The biggest danger groundhogs present to dogs is that groundhogs frequently carry rabies, which is passed on through saliva. So if a dog has been bitten by a groundhog, the owner will want to seek immediate rabies treatment, and if groundhogs are frequent guests in the yard, it’s a good idea for homeowners to pay attention to pets when they’re outdoors so rabies treatment can commence immediately.
Q. Are groundhogs good for anything?
They are! While most people are more familiar with their annoying or destructive qualities, groundhogs make a great contribution to the environment. Although groundhogs’ burrowing and tunneling can disrupt soil and root systems, in soil that is heavy with clay or very dense, the burrowing naturally aerates the soil, which makes it easier for plant roots to reach through. The burrowing also mixes soils and can help balance sand and clay and spread nutrients through the soil more effectively. Finally, groundhogs share their elaborate burrows with other hibernating animals over the winter and build their burrows strongly enough that after they have moved out, other animals that are not as skilled at burrow-building can move in. Some of the animals that inhabit abandoned groundhog burrows hunt mice and other pests that trouble farmers and gardeners—including groundhogs.
Q. How long do groundhogs live?
A groundhog’s average lifespan is about 3 years. They hibernate over the winter, so it may seem as if they’ve disappeared during colder weather, but they’ll be back out and about in the spring.