How to get
rid of groundhogs.
The groundhog is a burrowing mammal of the order of rodents. The best known species in Europe is the mountain marmot (Marmotta marmot), while in North America, it is the Marmotta monax, colloquially called ” whistle” in Quebec.
The groundhog wanders in our properties, often in search of food.
How is the presence of a marmot disturbing? How do we get rid of this protected species without hunting it? How do I distinguish groundhogs from other rodents? What is its life cycle, its reproductive rhythm? What can be taken to prevent its installation? These are all questions we answer below.
Invasion of marmots: what do we recognize them for?
Groundhogs are a rodent that can be recognized by:
- His head flattened, his neck practically non-existent, his ears small and round as well as his snout surrounded by a pale spot, his black eyes and his 2 pairs of large incisors placed at the front,
- Its stocky and chubby body, about 66 centimetres long, and weighing up to 7.5 kilograms,
- Its thick coat, varying between brown, black and brown, and with dense, woolly down on the flanks and back,
- His belly a little paler, and his short and powerful limbs,
- Its front legs with a rudimentary thumb with a flat fingernail, and four fingers finished with flat, curved claws, suitable for burrowing,
- Its hind legs ended with five fingers also equipped with flat, curved claws,
- Its tail is relatively short and thick.
The groundhog can flatten its body and spine, super flexible, it allows it to sneak between the rocks.
Know the life cycle of groundhogs
… to get rid of them more effectively
The breeding of groundhogs takes place between March and April. They give birth between April and May. It takes 28 to 32 days for the female to give birth to a litter of 2 to 6 pups.
They are born bald and blind. Weaned between late June and early July, they will have to feed themselves. They very often occupy abandoned burrows.
The new burrows, which can be seen in the late summer, were mostly dug by old marmots.
In autumn, groundhogs eat a lot, then build up reserves of fat that will help them survive during their 5 months and semi hibernation.
She then lives in slow motion so as not to burn too quickly the said reserves: her heart slows down from 80 to 4 or 5 beats per minute, the temperature of her body drops to 7 degrees, her breathing becomes barely perceptible.
During this period, groundhogs wake up about every four weeks only to do their needs.
Be careful, if the ambient temperature rises to less than 3oC underground, the groundhog may freeze to death. To avoid this, she wakes up and activates.
In general, marmots hibernate in groups of 2 to 20 individuals. It is a strategy that allows them to reduce their energy expenditure and increase their chances of surviving the harsh winter. Because individuals are in contact with each other, their ability to store heat and restore it gradually increases.
4 to 10 years of life expectancy
In the wild, in the wild, the groundhog lives only 4 to 8 years, on the other hand in captivity it reaches the age of 10 years. This is due to several factors: diseases, lack of food and water, predators, etc.
In case of danger, the groundhog emits a powerful hiss to alert its comrades. That is why we call it “Whistle” in Canada.
Groundhogs in your land, what nuisances?
Groundhogs like to live on sandy, well-drained terrain. It lives in fields, rugged terrain, wood edges, sparse forests, rocky slopes, embankments next to highways. And if ever, your home is close to these places, the groundhog will enter it to feed.
Its menu is quite wide.
It feeds on dandelions, fruits and vegetables, plantains, clovers, etc. But she also does not hesitate to devour snails, beetles, insects and chicks.
This rodent is “harmful” when it attacks your gardens, agricultural crops and pastures, devouring everything in its path. It is also unwelcome when he digs tunnels and makes a burrow that “plough” the land.
It should not be overlooked that, like all wild animals, it is a vector of parasites and diseases (up to rabies).
Exterminator tips to avoid groundhogs.
You can prevent marmots from colonizing your home. For this, all you need is:
- monitor your environment, all the hiding places they like: rocks, wooden shelters,
- to deny them access to shelters. Do you have a shed? Balconies? A garden shed? Butcher them, caulk them, you will prevent the marmots from hiding there.
- make scarecrows using light balloons, connected to the ground by a long rope. Balloted by the wind, they will frighten groundhogs and other wild animals (raccoon, skunk,squirrel).
- serve you repellents. (Coyote Urine)
Take castor oil and tabasco to which you add urine. Get a few pieces of fabrics; and soak them in this mixture. Then place them in the spaces to protect from groundhogs.
You can also keep them away with the smell of ground pepper and ground hot peppers.
- scatter brightly coloured objects
Put several brightly colored balloons on your lawn or garden. Groundhogs do not like bright colors. In their eyes, they are scarecrows. They will prefer to move away from it.
- Use automatic sprinkler systems
There are motion-sensingsprinkler systems on the market. As soon as the groundhogs start circulating, this device will trigger jets of water and wet them and should deter them.
- Seal your garbage cans and compost boxes. Avoid plastic bags that groundhogs can easily tear with their claws.
In fact, create an environment in which groundhogs will not feel comfortable.
If it is too late and a groundhog has taken up residence in your marmot property, the professional exterminator.
Hantavirus, definition and mode of transmission
Hantavirus is a severe lung syndrome caused by a virus. It is secreted in the urine, feces and saliva of infected animals. Most often these are rodents. When humans come into direct or indirect contact with these secretions, the virus is transmitted to them. Ditto when they are bitten by infected rodents.
However, the virus is not transmitted from human to human, only from animal to human. This type of disease is called zoonoses because they can only be transmitted to humans through an animal. It has been found that domestic animals (apart from the domestic rat) and livestock cannot contract hantavirus so there is every reason to believe that only rodents can carry it.
Symptoms of hantavirus
Being a lung disease, one of the characteristic symptoms of hantavirus is difficulty breathing. At the beginning of the disease, the infected person begins to feel fever, chills, headache and muscle pain.
It is about two weeks after the appearance of the first symptoms that they are usually accompanied by a feeling of shortness of breath. Nevertheless, this last manifestation of the disease can be observed after two days as after six weeks; it depends on the organism of the individual.
Hantavirus can also lead to kidney disease or infection. And although they are rare and very few people are prone to them, there is currently no treatment to combat these ailments. It is therefore better to be careful not to contract them.
Capturing marmots, an exterminator’s job
The exterminator does not have a mission to eliminate marmots it is a protected species.
The professional exterminator will therefore practice integrated control. He will seek to capture and move the animal. He will also advise you on what steps to take to ensure that the sifleux does not return to your property.
Choose a professional exterminator who specializes in catching and moving groundhogs:
- It has an authorization from the Quebec Ministry of Wildlife and Parks for the capture and relocation of wild animals,
- He has a C5 licence from the Quebec Ministry of Sustainable Development; which means that it captures and moves groundhogs in compliance with Environment Canada regulations,
- It has a specific and precise work plan:
- It uses certified professional technicians in wild animal capture,
- He rushed to the scene to confirm that it was an assault by marmots. It identifies the source and measures the severity of the attack,
- It then uses the appropriate method of capture and movement.
- He intervenes with total discretion. For example, it uses vehicles that look nothing like exterminator vehicles.
- Gives you a written guarantee on the effectiveness of its capture of groundhogs.
And you, have the marmots ever rushed to your property? How did you get rid of them without killing them? Tell us in the comments below.
Scientists are interested in marmots
Groundhogs are being researched on the ability to slow their heart rate, breathe and lower their body temperature to hibernate.
Some drugs and operations could be improved if the same phenomenon could be replicated in humans.