How to Catch a Woodchuck with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Woodchuck with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Be careful if you decide to tamper with woodchuck burrows. Depending on the time of year, there might be young woodchucks underground."

How to Catch a Woodchuck with a Live Trap

Also known as a groundhog, a woodchuck is a rodent notorious for wreaking havoc on lawns. These animals may destroy your yard for fresh vegetables and other food. One method of removing a woodchuck from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a woodchuck with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a woodchuck. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies.

Woodchuck in Burrow

Woodchucks are generally 16.5 to 27 inches long. They have strong back legs and normally weigh between 4.4 and 13.9 pounds and are intelligent animals. Woodchucks are active during the day. Woodchucks have teeth that grow every week, which means they constantly need to be chewing on something. Their diet consists of berries, grass, and other vegetation. They are burrowing animals and will create burrows for areas to sleep.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a woodchuck on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is a woodchuck, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from woodchucks. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Woodchucks are generally around fields, pastures, and areas with vegetation.

What to Look For

Because woodchucks are active during the day, this is when damage will occur. There are certain signs that signal woodchuck activity, such as woodchuck tracks. These tracks will have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their hind feet.


Now that you've identified your pest animal as a woodchuck and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a woodchuck picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

You want the woodchuck to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. Keep your trash sealed in trash bags and stored in trash bins with a lid to keep it closed. Any pet food or bowls of water should be placed inside as soon as possible as well.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

Live Trap in Wild

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high woodchuck activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. A woodchuck might push or knock over the trap in order to reach the bait inside. Place a brick or weight on top of the trap to avoid this.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Trap Trigger

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a woodchuck. These animals prefer sweet fruit such as cantaloupe or strawberries. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the woodchuck will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade woodchucks from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Woodchuck

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have captured a woodchuck in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the woodchuck. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area woodchuck-free.


An unkempt yard will be sure to attract woodchucks. Regularly maintain your area by mowing your lawn and removing weeds. Soil can be tilled to destroy established burrows. Sweep up and dispose of debris. This will prevent woodchucks from returning in search of food.


If your property is near a wooded area and you have no fencing, you are more susceptible to having woodchucks and other wild animals invade your property. Consider blocking off your property with some fencing. If you do install fencing, make sure it is at least 6 feet tall and 10 inches underground. This is to prevent woodchucks from climbing the fence or digging under it.

Key Takeaways

  • Woodchucks are active during the day. They have brown fur and a small bushy tail. Their eyes and ears are small but they have very large teeth that grow every week.
  • Bait the live trap with sweet fruit like cantaloupes or strawberries, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap.
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a woodchuck is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent woodchucks from entering your property again by installing fencing along your property and maintaining your yard. Be sure to regularly mow your grass and pull away any weeds. You can also till your soil to get rid of any burrows.

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