Groundhogs belong to the family of squirrels and are among the largest members of the marmot species. Depending on the season, they have a famine or feasting lifestyle: they eat plenty of food during the summer and retreat to their burrows when winter draws. But do groundhogs eat mice?
Groundhogs occupy most Northern American regions, especially in Canada and Alaska. They co-exist with different animals, both small and big. So if you are wondering what constitutes their diet, we have your answer in this article. Keep reading to learn more about groundhogs.
Do Groundhogs Eat Mice?
No, groundhogs do not eat mice. They are herbivores, and most of their diet comprises grass, fruits, tree bark, and other plant materials. They mainly live in burrows underground, but they are also great climbers.
Groundhogs inhabit regions where open places like streams, roads, and fields meet woodlands. In these places, plenty of food sources range from grass and fruits to plant remains. Groundhogs are very disastrous when it comes to garden crops. If you live where the groundhog population is high, expect a loss.
Do Groundhogs Keep Mice Away?
Groundhogs do not keep mice away. Groundhogs are herbivores and eat mainly vegetables, so they are never a threat to mice. However, they grow bigger than mice, so it’s evident that they will challenge mice in case of a fight. But it’s never the case; groundhogs love creating burrows that sometimes help refuge mice.
Groundhogs build burrows that can be a home to mice and other animals like foxes, rabbits, and coyotes. They can build burrows up to 65 feet long; these burrows can have multiple entrances and rooms that can host other animals like mice.
What Do Groundhogs Eat?
Groundhogs eat vegetables, grass, tree bark, and fruits. However, they sometimes eat insects and worms from the ground as they burrow their ground holes. Groundhogs’ greens are lettuce, clovers, alfalfa, daisies, dandelions, hackberry, and red mulberry leaves.
They eat trees, specifically the twigs and barks, including dogwood and black cherry. Other foods eaten by groundhogs include carrots, beans, corn, celery, peas, apples, cherries, and berries.
All the mentioned foods attract groundhogs. So if you have more of these foods in your garden, you should expect their visits.
You can know their existence in your garden if missing crops and plants are sharply cut at angles. And because groundhogs can clear an entire area of crops, having excess weeds in your garden contribute to their habitation. Whenever you suspect groundhogs in your garden, contact a pest control professional to assist in mitigating the problem as soon as possible.
Are Groundhogs Dangerous?
Groundhogs are not dangerous. They do not like people and will run whenever you approach them. There are only a few cases where you’ll find a groundhog having conflict with humans, but such cases are rare.
But with all said, never underestimate a groundhog. Never threaten to harm it or hold onto it. If they can cut tree bark and other hard plant materials, what will it do to your body when you hold it? If you barely hold groundhog, chances of getting massive bites are high, and it will leave you with serious injuries.
Groundhogs have very sharp teeth that can slice through hard materials. They also have strong muscles in their jaws that help them deliver strong bites when eating hard materials or defending.
Groundhogs also carry ticks that can transmit deadly viruses to human beings. According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus transported by groundhog tics can transmit the Powassan virus. The Powassan virus causes deadly infections, and some of the symptoms are:
- Loss of coordination
- Aches and weakness
It’s evident that even though the groundhogs do not have the viruses, the tics they carry in their bodies do.
Also, groundhogs are very dangerous animals to crops. They are disastrous and can cause great losses when left in the garden.
Other Animals That Eat Mice
Mice fall prey to many predators like cats, canids, birds, snakes, and humans. A mouse gives birth to 12 young ones at a single delivery, and they give birth ten times a year. This phenomenon helps them increase their population, although they are preyed on by many predators. Let us discuss some of the predators.
All types of domestic or wild cats kill and eat mice. Most people keep cats as pest predators to control house mice invasions in their homes. However, wildcats, lynx, and bobcats depend on mice as their primary diet. The bigger cat family, like lions, leopards, and jaguars, only eat mice as a supplement when food is scarce.
Canids are all dog-like animals like coyotes, foxes, jackals, and dingos. Most of these animals eat mice as part of their diet. Animals like coyotes and wolves hunt mice during winter to survive the harsh climate because mice do not burrow in deep holes. Also, some domestic dogs eat mice, especially those trained to hunt rats, foxes, and weasels.
Mice are another food source for predatory birds like eagles, owls, and hawks. Other birds like the heron, Crows, and bluejays eat mice as part of their diet. And because mice are mainly active at night, they become more susceptible to owls.
A family of owls can capture dozens of mice per night because they are nocturnal and hunt in the dark. Having owls in your garden full of crops is essential because they’ll help control the number of mice destroying your crops.
Many snake species eat mice as part of their primary diet. Snakes are dangerous to humans but are a great mouse control when they are on your farm.
Snakes are amazing creatures because their free jaw joints help them swallow mice bigger than their body size. In a natural phenomenon, an increase in mice corresponds with an increase in snakes in a particular habitat; it helps balance the food chain.
Humans are also another threat that predates mice. Although most people from civilized nations will never dream of eating a mouse except in dire circumstances, it’s never the case in other countries. Countries like Korea and Japan are known to eat almost all animals.
They even prepare wine that consists of baby mice fermented inside; it’s believed that it’s healthy. In developing countries like Malawi and Zambia, they capture mice and roast them to sell on the roadsides after harvesting in the corn fields. They even end up preparing the mice as a meal.
What Do Groundhogs Hate?
Groundhogs hate predator urine, castor oil, hair cuttings, soiled kitty litter, cayenne pepper, lavender, garlic, Epsom salts, blood meal, talcum powder, and ammonia.
In short, groundhogs hate repulsive smells around their homes. Some of these smells suffocate them, like ammonia, which signifies the presence of predators around their homes. When they sense unfamiliar smells around their burrows, they will leave the place to find refuge in another place away from the first.
How to Get Rid of Groundhogs?
- Predator urine is the best groundhog deterrent. Groundhogs hate places where there are predators. You can buy bobcat urine to spray in your garden around trees and crops. Predator urine is known to be over 80% effective. The Groundhogs population will greatly reduce if you use this pest control method.
Among the best method is spraying the urine around groundhog’s caves to make them leave their home. Also, reapply the urine on a rainy day because the chances of the urine washing away are high.
- Pouring castor oil into groundhog burrows. Groundhogs are known to hate the castor oil smell, and they’ll leave the burrow as soon as possible to build another burrow in another place away from the first one.
- Hair cuttings are another groundhog deterrent method. Groundhogs hate the smell of human beings. Once they detect that humans are around them, they’ll find refuge in other places. To deter them, place the hair cuttings at the burrow’s entrance.
- You can also pour soiled kitty litter around or inside the burrow. They hate the smell and will think that there are predators nearby.
- To smear around the burrow, you can use repulsive smells from lavender, garlic, or cayenne. Groundhogs hate repulsive smells and will leave the burrow as soon as possible.
- Soak a rag in ammonia and keep it at the burrow’s entrance or sprinkle blood meal, talcum powder, or Epsom salts around the burrow’s entrance.
Groundhogs inhabit most parts of North America, Canada, and Alaska. They live where woodlands meet with open places like streams, grasslands, and farmlands. Their primary diet comprises grass, vegetables, fruits, and other plant products like twigs and tree bark.
Groundhogs carry ticks that have a deadly virus that can be transmitted to human beings. If you have groundhogs and want to deter them, there are preservative methods you can use, and they include repulsive smells like predator urine, ammonia, garlic, or lavender.