The Groundhog’s Seeing, Hearing, and Sense of Smell

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Published on June 9, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023

Also commonly referred to as a woodchuck, the groundhog is a rodent found throughout the Eastern USA, across Canada, and even into Alaska. You may have encountered these critters before and are wondering what are their senses like?

Groundhogs have an amazing sense of sight, hearing, and smell, all of which can help them in their daily quest to avoid dangerous situations and in their search for food.

So yes, while you may have thought the opposite about groundhogs, now you know the truth! Groundhogs have very preceptive senses that assist them in staying safe from dangerous predators and situations such as oncoming traffic. 

The Groundhog’s Seeing, Hearing, and Sense of Smell

The groundhog is very perceptive when it comes to its hearing, seeing, and sense of smell. Having these keen senses can help a groundhog tremendously throughout its lifetime. 

In fact, oftentimes groundhogs will peak their heads out of their burrows in order to check for danger, using their keen sense of smell, sight, and hearing to pick out any nearby threats. 

They can do this because their eyes, nose, and ears are all located at the very top of their head, which makes it easy to use their senses from the safety of their hiding spots to check for imminent danger.

Do Groundhogs Have Developed Senses?

Adult groundhogs have developed senses, but the same cannot be said for newborn or infant groundhogs. Much in the same way as other newborn and infant animals, groundhogs that are newly introduced to our world come into it without being able to hear or to see; in other words, they are born deaf and blind.

However, as they age and grow, their senses develop quite well and their senses, overall, are very sharp.

Do Groundhogs Have Good Eyesight?

It may come as a surprise to some but groundhogs do have incredibly good eyesight. In fact, groundhogs can see a distance of 250-300 yards away which helps them to identify danger quickly and to take appropriate action to avoid it. 

Some hunters have attested to the fact that groundhogs can spot vehicles 300 yards away from where they are. This helps them avoid dangerous traffic situations but can also help them in spotting and hiding from predators such as coyotes.  

Can Groundhogs See Colors?

Yes, groundhogs can see and differentiate between colors. Groundhogs even have favorite colors and it is thought that they prefer dark colors over bright colors. 

As such, groundhogs are more likely to stay in your presence if you’re wearing dark colors such as dark blues, purples, and blacks. If you’re wearing a bright yellow t-shirt, though, and happen upon a groundhog in the wild, it may just run the other way.

Can Groundhogs See In The Dark?

Contrary to popular belief, and although their sense of vision is superb throughout the daytime, groundhogs have pretty terrible night vision.

While some may assume that groundhogs can see well in the dark due to the fact that these critters leave their burrows in the early morning hours and sometimes even at night, this is a common misconception  

These diurnal animals have poor night vision and usually only emerge at night or early morning to dig or to escape dangerous situations.

Can You Repel Groundhogs With Lighting?

Since groundhogs are used to being active during the day, they do not mind lights, so lighting isn’t a good repellent for these critters. 

How Much Do Groundhogs Rely On Their Vision?

Groundhogs are heavily reliant on their vision. Their keen sense of vision allows them to see danger from far away and make a good exit strategy and it also helps them when foraging for food.

Groundhogs are decent at spotting oncoming vehicles and traffic, giving them enough time to high-tail it out of an otherwise perilous situation.

They will also often climb up into trees in order to look for nearby danger or when looking for food. 

Do Groundhogs Have Good Hearing?

Yes, like with their sense of vision, groundhogs have an impeccable sense of hearing and can hear approaching danger, which allows them enough time to find a place to hide. 

How Do Groundhogs Use Their Hearing?

Groundhogs typically use their sense of hearing to hear if danger is around, just like they use their sense of smell and sight to notice nearby threats. They can hear cars, traffic, humans, and other wildlife who may find groundhogs as easy prey. 

By using their sensitive hearing to pick up on nearby noises, a groundhog can determine whether or not a situation is dangerous and if so, they are given enough of a chance to find a safe place to hide. 

Are Their Sounds That Groundhogs Like?

Groundhogs like the sound of whistling and it can usually distract them long enough to make them stand up on their hind legs out of curiosity to see what is going on around them.

Whistling is also one of the groundhog’s ways of communicating with other groundhogs.

Are There Sounds That Groundhogs Don’t Like?

There are many sounds that groundhogs don’t care for and can be used as a repellant against these rodents. For example, groundhogs hate ultrasonic noises and will often run away from these sounds. 

These ultrasonic sounds are at a high frequency of anything over 20,000 Hz.

While we humans are unable to pick up on these sounds due to their frequency, the groundhog’s sense of hearing is so sensitive that they can hear them quite well. Because of how sensitive a groundhog’s hearing is, these sounds can cause them to feel discomfort and pain in their ears. 

Do Groundhogs Have A Good Sense Of Smell?

Like it was the case with their senses of sight and sound, groundhogs possess a great sense of smell that helps them in their day-to-day life. 

How Do Groundhogs Use Their Sense Of Smell?

Groundhogs use their sense of smell to know if there are predators nearby so that they can hide and stay safe, and, more rarely, they can also use their sense of smell to forage for food.

Can Groundhogs Smell Predators From Far Away?

Yes, groundhogs can smell predators from far away. Typically, they can smell a predator’s urine which warns them away from certain areas that may pose a higher danger risk than others. 

Groundhogs can differentiate between different animals’ urine smells to decide whether the animal is a friend or foe. 

Are There Smells That Attract Groundhogs?

Groundhogs love the smell of fresh fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorite scents are cantaloupe or muskmelon, broccoli, and peaches. 

This is why you will often find groundhogs in gardens, too, because they love the smell of freshly sprouting fruit and vegetables.

If they smell your garden, they will surely help themselves to your fruits and veggies, and may even dig up your flowerbeds.

Are There Smells That Groundhogs Don’t Like?

There are many scents that groundhogs dislike. These include: 

  • Predator urine: Since groundhogs use their sense of smell to detect nearby threats through the scent of urine, it should come as no surprise to learn that this is one of the most hated smells for groundhogs. Coyote and fox urine are two of the urine smells that groundhogs hate the most because they are the most common predators when it comes to groundhogs. These urine smells are good repellents to use to keep these pests away from gardens and flowerbeds.
  • Putrescent Eggs: The smell of putrescent eggs is often associated with the smell of decaying animals which is another smell that groundhogs don’t like.  While there are many commercial products available for purchase, you can also make your own putrescent egg formula by using just eggs and water and putting the mixture into a spray bottle. Spraying this mixture outside in the hot sun will cause the mixture to spoil and create the putrescent egg smell that groundhogs hate. 
  • Seasoning & Condiments: Garlic, onion, mustard, hot sauce, and black pepper are among some of the seasonings and condiments that groundhogs can’t stand to be around. This can be attributed to their strong scents and the fact that groundhogs have such sensitive noses. There are many ways you can use these ingredients; some you can sprinkle around your yard and others will require you to mix up a solution to spray. 
  • Geranium: The essential oil Geranium is also a great repellent to use for these critters as they do not like the scent of this essential oil either. It is recommended to mix 10-15 drops of Geranium oil with a cup of water and then add the mixture to a spray bottle to use around your property. 

Can Groundhogs Sense Movements And Vibrations In The Ground?

Yes, groundhogs can sense movements and vibrations in the ground. Oftentimes, these movements and vibrations will come from sonic devices or things like lawn windmills or spinning pinwheels. 

When they sense these types of movements, they often get scared away and will find another place to burrow, so many homeowners will place such devices outside of groundhog burrows that they find in their yard. 


  • Tommy

    Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.

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