Groundhog Paw Print

 

Groundhog (Woodchuck):

The groundhog is a larger member of the rodent family.  The name Groundhog probably came from the fact that it has a squat appearance, waddling gait, and lives in burrows dug into the ground.  The groundhog is a medium-sized, rotund animal, with short legs, a bushy (though flattened) tail, a broad head with short ears that can be closed over the ear openings to keep out the dirt while digging, 4 large toes with claws (and one smaller in front) and 5 large clawed toes in back.  Their color is generally grayish-brown with a yellowish to reddish tint.  The weight ranges from 4 to 14 pounds.  Their life span in the wild averages 5 to 6 years.



Young Groundhog
   

Geographic Range:

Groundhogs are found from as far north as Alaska, throughout Canada and in the eastern half of the United States, but not as likely in the deep south.

   

Food Preferences:

They are vegetarians - grasses, plants, herbs, leaves, flowers, apples, paw paws, your garden crops of peas, beans, corn, etc.

 
   

Habits and Behaviors:

Groundhogs are Diurnal (active during the daylight hours) and seem to prefer to make their own homes, by burrowing a tunnel from 10 to 45 feet long, into a larger nest chamber.  If chased by a predator, they may enter their tunnels, and wall-up the entrance with dirt.  Tunnel openings are usually well camouflaged with vegetation and many side entrances may be dug into the nest sight.  They eat like crazy during the summer and early fall, because they hibernate during the winter, living off the stored body fat.  Favorite summer activities appear to be eating, digging and basking in the sun.



Groundhog getting a bite to eat
   

Enemies:

Humans, automobiles, dogs, foxes, coyotes, ticks, fleas, roundworms, flies and their larvae and tularemia.



Adult Groundhog
   

Helpful to the Environment:

Aeration and mixing of the soil (we who live in this area know how tough the clay is) which improves usability of crop lands; awesome construction abilities have provided homes for other animals, such as skunks, opossums, foxes and rabbits.



Groundhog peeking out of his burrow