Groundhog

Groundhog facts

  • Groundhogs  – AKA woodchucks – are members of the squirrel family and are vegetarians, eating grasses, clover, dandelion, garden vegetables, berries… and consume about 1/3 of their weight every day!
  • They have between 3 and 6 kits. By 6 weeks old, the kits are active and ready to start leaving the burrow with their mother
  • Groundhogs have a keen sense of smell and hearing
  • They spend most of their time in their burrow, which has one main entrance and several side entrances, and includes one area set aside as a bathroom!
  • Groundhogs hibernate in winter. February 2nd (“Groundhog Day”) is much too early for a groundhog to leave his burrow in Pennsylvania, so don’t rely on a groundhog seeing his shadow to predict the coming of spring!

Avoiding and resolving problems with groundhogs

For the best advice on dealing with groundhog issues, click here

  • The main issue placing groundhogs at odds with humans occurs when groundhogs raid vegetable or flower patches in urban gardens
  • Trapping and removing the animal will not resolve the problem, because another groundhog will soon be attracted to whatever brought the first animal there

However, a few simple measures in your backyards will keep groundhogs away from your plants:

  • Place objects in your garden that will blow around in the wind (beach balls, tied party balloons, old CDs, shiny silver tape, etc.)
  • To prevent digging, you can install a simple chicken wire or mesh fence around your vegetable garden. The top part should be 3 to 4 feet high. The bottom should be bent into an “L” shape extending another 6 to 12 inches outward, away from the garden. This part needs to be pinned to the ground using landscaping staples. The fence should be loosely wired to fence posts since groundhogs hate to climb a wobbly fence! HSUS shows how to create an “L-footer” at the base of a fence or shed here.
  • You can place a single-wire, 4?-high electric fence in front of the other fence to add an extra deterrent to groundhogs and raccoons
  • Groundhogs digging under your shed? If this is a problem, the groundhogs can be evicted and the hole covered, but you should wait until there is no risk of babies being buried inside the burrow. See the HSUS links above for more details.

Groundhogs in the ecosystem:

By digging their burrows they help improve the soil, breaking it down to create better topsoil. Their abandoned dens provide homes for other animals such as foxes and skunks, and of course they are a food source for many animals and raptors…

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if  a woodchuck could chuck wood?

About 700 pounds… Compared to beavers, groundhogs are not good at moving timber, although some will chew wood. One wildlife biologist measured the inside volume of  a typical groundhog burrow and estimated that – if wood filled the hole instead of dirt – the woodchuck would have chucked about 700 pounds’ worth.

Photo credit: Hoghaven

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