About Groundhogs

Do you ever wonder what is responsible for the underground muddle of tunnels you usually see close to or right under your structures? Or does it amaze you that the vegetables or flowers in your garden seem to miraculously disappear during the summer, especially in suburban areas in the northeastern parts of the United States? Sometimes, you may notice that the fruits and vegetables have teeth marks and dents in them and wonder what is going on in your garden. You might be looking at a case of having groundhogs in your territory. They are often the unwelcome lodgers in your domain that look innocent, cute, and less-expressive, never violent. In fact, just because they do not actually spread any significant disease, you may be tempted to overlook their presence and activities. But then, you will only know the true scope of harm that these groundhogs (or woodchucks, as they are called in some regions) cause by the time you see the ground-holes they have burrowed or carefully examine your garden and plant life. You should have a wholesome knowledge of groundhogs and how to deal with them if you intend to control and remove them from your territory. Firstly, they pose a threat to your furniture. Also, it is not a rare sight to find some groundhogs lying under your porch, shed, or just any deck around, so you are almost always expecting them. How exactly do groundhogs look and behave? How harmful are they? You will find out all this and more in this article. We have answered your groundhog questions!

Groundhog Appearance
Groundhogs are critters. They bear a resemblance to large ground squirrels. They are, in fact, one of the most abundant members of the squirrel family, and an average adult groundhog, when measured longitudinally, will be between 40cm and 65cm. Some of these groundhogs grow up to 80cm in length, based on recent research. They usually appear in white, grey and brown colors.  The groundhog or woodchuck is a very swift animal whose features are modified for that purpose. First of all, they are quite nimble, weighing around two to four kilograms. Can you visualize that? They have short and powerful limbs with thick sharp claws, which they use to dig into wood and other structures. The thick layer of fur covering them keeps them warm, especially during their hibernation period in the winter.

Groundhog Diet
Groundhogs are chiefly first-class heterotrophs; they feed on grass, fruits, and vegetables. They are normally herbivorous. However, in some conditions, some groundhogs feed on small insects, snails, and grasshoppers. A fun fact in their nutrition is that they don't drink water. They remain hydrated from the water in the leaves of the plants they consume, and so they feed majorly on succulent fruits, plants, and vegetables and sleep for most parts of the day.

Groundhog Homes
Another fun fact is that groundhog homes are as large as underground cities, and though there is a maze of many tunnels, groundhogs have excellent navigation skills. Usually, you can find groundhogs almost in any burrow, otherwise known as tunnels. These burrows serve many functions for the groundhogs; from sleeping to rearing their young ones, they are even the location they use during their periods of hibernation. A classic den is very large, almost 14 meters in length and about 1.5 meters deep, and will have two to five entry or exit points with more than one groundhog living in it at a time! Interestingly, these burrows can be found almost anywhere and so pose a great threat to building structures. 

Groundhog Life Cycle
At birth, the groundhog is blind and bald and requires great care from the mother, so it remains with its mother until it becomes strong enough to live independently.  By the time the young groundhog is about five to six weeks, it begins to make its own burrows. This burrow is where you will find it hibernating during the winter. They usually breed from early March to late April after they come out of hibernation. The male and the female stay together for up to 30 days (about a month) and just before the birth of the young ones. Usually, a female groundhog gives birth to about two to six offspring at a time. In the wild, these groundhogs live for about two to three years with the older ones living for up to six years; however, they can live up to fourteen years in captivity. We have recently seen that groundhogs can be disease vectors carrying rabies, hepatitis, and other pathogens, so you should take precautions when dealing with them. 

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