What You Didn’t Know About Groundhogs

sos logoGroundhogs are the furry creatures that often come to mind when we think of Groundhog Day as they peek their heads out of the ground for the first time after hibernating. However, there are more to groundhogs than the famous North American custom. Continue reading on to learn more about these wild animals!

Groundhogs are herbivores

Groundhogs find their food in a number of locations, as they are able to climb trees, roam the ground and swim across bodies of water. They are predominantly herbivores, meaning that their diet ideally consists of plants and lacks meat. However, they do incorporate small bugs into their diet on rare occasions. Among all of the food resources that groundhogs consume, three general foods that they prefer to munch on include grass, nuts and tree bark -this is why they have such strong front teeth! They also have a great taste for juicy fruits and vegetables as well. Favourable fruits include cherries and blackberries; favourable vegetables include lettuce and peas.

Groundhogs create their own homes

Judging by their name, it is easily assumed that groundhogs live under the ground. In fact, groundhogs use their paws to dig burrows in the ground that can measure up to 20 meters long. This large amount of space allows these rodents to comfortably inhabit the area as they raise their young, hibernate and take shelter from above-ground predators such as coyotes and black bears. Fascinatingly enough, these burrows can consist of multiple levels, each with its own individual purpose. Moreover, each burrow has a separate section designated for defecation -otherwise known as a washroom.

Once a groundhog decides to permanently leave its burrow and move onto the next, the old burrow then becomes a new home to small neighboring animals such as snakes, rabbits and chipmunks.

 

Groundhogs are solitary animals

The scientific name for groundhog is Marmota monax, where monax directly translates to “solitary”. In other words, groundhogs prefer to live alone and isolated from other groundhogs. Unlike other animals who are very dependent, these animals are very independent, causing them to have a low dependency relationship with their mothers at a young age. As a result, a short two months after their birth, younger groundhogs already begin to live on their own and only temporarily break their solitary lifestyles to mate throughout adulthood. However, groundhogs do communicate as a species to warn others about approaching threats by emitting high-pitched shrills.

Groundhogs can be quite pesky

As a result of their extensive underground burrows, groundhogs can be quite problematic towards farmers and other animals; this is why they are considered as pests. Popular places to dig groundhog homes range from open meadows to farmland which can make life difficult for others in the area. These burrows destroy fresh crops and result in large holes in the soil that can damage tractors and may cause livestock to trip and injure themselves.

Groundhogs are big eaters

Despite their small body size, groundhogs are able to eat a surprising and tremendous amount of food at once, with eating sessions lasting up to two hours at the most.  During the warmer seasons prior to winter, groundhogs spend a lot of their time preparing for hibernation and a large portion of their preparation is solely dedicated to fattening up. In fact, a groundhog can consume more than an entire pound of vegetation just in one sitting to build up fat storage and can weigh up to 15 pounds despite their small body size. To accommodate their heavy dietary habits, groundhogs grow upper and lower incisors that continue to grow every week so their teeth do not become susceptible to weakening and do not become blunt. As a result of maintaining sharp incisors, groundhogs are prone to fatal accidents that involve the upper incisors puncturing the lower jaw.  

 

Groundhogs love their sleep

Similar to bats and ground squirrels, groundhogs are known as “true hibernators”. Prior to the biting chills of winter’s approach, groundhogs begin to fill their bodies with extensive amounts of food to keep them nourished as they go into hibernation. Female groundhogs give birth to their offspring in the early spring which allows the young to mature throughout the summer and prepare for hibernation in the fast approaching winter. True hibernators enter a deep sleep that is almost impossible to break. Moreover, they go into a dormant state where they demonstrate a significantly low drop in both body temperature and heart rate. Changes in body temperature can drop to less than 20 degrees Celsius and in extreme cases, may result in a drop to 5 degrees Celsius. Heart rate changes may be as drastic as going from the normal 80 beats to four beats per minute.

Groundhogs are definitely more than your guide into whether winter is coming to an end, they’ve really got more to them than a lot of us think! They’re smart and sneaky and can sometimes be problematic to the common homeowner. If this is the case for you, then finding a humane solution to solve this is always the best answer. Call a professional wildlife control company to help you with your groundhog removal or prevention needs.

If you notice signs of wildlife in your house give us a call. At SOS Wildlife Control Inc., we provide squirrel control services for residential, commercial, and industrial clients, guaranteeing effective results every single time. Let us help you solve your wildlife problems. Taking action before it’s too late will help eliminate animal damage repair costs. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year for emergency services, and can easily be reached at 1-800-981-0330. Don’t wait, call us to schedule an appointment for a thorough inspection, removal and prevention to help evacuate all your unwanted wildlife guests in the most humane way possible.

Call SOS Wildlife (289) 301-5906 or 1.800.981.0330!