What Animal Could Possibly Be Ruining My Vegetable Garden?

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I have been gardening for years and I have not encountered such destruction in my vegetable garden this year. I have seen a small woodchuck, just one time and never saw it again. However, there is a whole in my garden and I assume someone is living there. I have dropped various things in the whole in hopes that he would go away. No such luck. Most of my beans are gone, The tops of my tomatoes are gone. This morning I viewed my garden, and all the little tomatoes were gone. It has chewed most of my cucumber plants along the fence. I have picked only 3 zucchinis, a small mess of beans, and 3 cucumbers. How can a woodchuck reach so high? My garden has a 5ft. fence around it. Usually my tomatoes are never bothered by the woodchucks. I am including a few pictures of the destruction.

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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Dora-From the looks of the damage and from what you said the animal doing the damage could very likely be a woodchuck also known as a groundhog. If you have seen a hole in the garden this could be an entry and or exit from a large underground tunneling. If closing the hole off by dropping items in it hasn't stopped the damage you may find another hole that has been made hidden in the garden or the intruder is just climbing over the fence. These animals not only dig easily under fences but can climb over a fence such as yours with no problem at all. As far as eating plants and fruit at all levels in the garden this also is no problem for a woodchuck standing on its hind legs. I would first look around the area outside the garden for other holes. They normally will make and use other entries and exits leading to their underground tunneling. These can be a ways from the garden as they have been know to tunnel 50 feet or more from other entry or exit holes. Look careful at the soil in the garden for tracks. There will be prints of 4 toes on their front feet and 5 toes on the rear feet. If you can see any prints level the soil around the hole so that prints will be easily seen once the enter or leave their burrow. If this is a woodchuck it may be hard to catch or see them munching on your beautiful garden as they are extremely smart about planning their dinner schedule. It doesn't take them long to know when you are around or working in your garden. They will make sure their dinner times don't conflict with your scheduling. Woodchucks love cucumbers and will take some large chomps out of each one, not just nibble on them. This is another indication a larger animal such as the woodchuck may be the invader. Without physically watching the garden at all hours you could place a few inexpensive movement sensors near the hole setting off an alarm when any movement is made within the area. Other animals I can think of that damage our gardens are much smaller and would not do the damage that has been done at all levels throughout your garden.

There are several ways to help keep the woodchuck out of the garden. Shooting them gives you instant results but not one as an animal lover would ever take. There may be laws against this in you location also. Some have had good results using chemical agents such as Fox Urine Shake - Away, but like many animals this may only work for awhile after learning no other animals are in the area that would produce this scent. Gas Cartridges are available at farm supply stores that can be lit and dropped into the hole to kill the animal. The problem with these is knowing if and when the woodchuck is in the tunneling and all entries and exits are covered so the gas is effective and has not escaped. Trapping is another remedy to the problem and one I would always use first. Once the little bugger is caught he can then be relocated to your neighbors yard. Just kidding. You might contact your local animal control or shelter for information on woodchuck problems. Our local animal control has traps available for different animals that can caught and then relocated. Your fencing can be made to help deter these guys by adding a foot or two of material that leans outward making it harder to climb over. Fencing buried in the ground several inches deep will also slow many down from digging under the existing fence.

Let me know what you find when checking for tracks or monitoring the area with sensors when you aren't near by to see them.
Please ask if you have any other questions or let me know if you feel the intruder is not a woodchuck.


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Dora Federico

Dora Federico · Gardenality Seedling · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thanks John for your great answer. I will post any new development on this problem.

6 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
You're very welcome. Fortunately we don't have woodchucks in California. I have read much about these animals after researching them a couple of times the last few years. In a few ways they can be beneficial but overall most of their behavior is extremely damaging to the home gardener and farmers from what I know. Let me know what you discover while monitoring your garden further. I was thinking it may be interesting to see what is happening in the garden by using a game camera in the area. You can purchase very inexpensive game cameras that have enough quality to see what animal is entering your garden. You might check with a larger sporting goods store or camera shop as some of these will also have these camera for rent. Just a thought.

6 years ago ·
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