What are Groundhogs?
Groundhogs (aka woodchucks) are a rodent in the same family as squirrels. They usually weigh less than 14 pounds and are about 25 inches long (including the tail). Their fur is yellowish-brown to black in color. They have short legs and bushy tails.
Groundhogs are not fast runners. Although, they will defend themselves when threatened. Groundhogs will make noise with their incisors and use short, sharp whistles to warn other groundhogs of danger.
- Adult body length (without tail): 16 to 22 inches
- Adult body weight: 5 to 13 pounds
- Gestation period: 31 to 32 days
- Litters per year: 1
- Litter size: 2 to 7 young (average 4)
- Breeding season: March and early April
- Birthing season: April through May
- Age at which young are weaned: 6 weeks
- Activity period: Daytime; especially sunrise to mid-morning and late afternoon until dark
- Range: 40 to 160 acres
- Primary foods: Vegetables, legumes, grasses and fruits
Groundhog Habitat and Breeding
Groundhogs are found throughout the Midwest in a variety of habitats. They prefer meadows, pastures, crop fields, and yards that are close to woods. They are especially common in brushy or weedy areas along fence rows.
These critters hibernate throughout the winter in underground burrows. Winter burrows are usually in wooded areas, whereas summer burrows are found near grassy or agricultural fields where food is available, sometimes under a barn.
It is common for a woodchuck or groundhog to have more than one summer burrow and make multiple entrances. Groundhog or woodchucks are territorial, especially during the breeding season, and will defend their burrows against intruders.
Groundhogs breed in late February or March. Four to five young are then born in April or May. A groundhog will give birth to only one litter per year. The young will start to find their own territory when they are just a few months old.
What Kind of Damage Do Groundhogs Cause?
Groundhogs commonly invade cropland and vegetable gardens, eating or destroying vegetables and succulent landscape plants. They’re also known to enter engine compartments of parked vehicles and gnaw on various rubber or plastic engine components and electrical wiring.
Groundhogs excavate large, unsightly burrows in fields, golf courses, cemeteries, lawns, and landscaping beds. This leaves mounds of soil at the dig site. They often excavate burrows along and beneath home and building foundations. They also burrow into levees and dikes, causing damaging washouts.
Occasionally, groundhogs completely undermine foundations of homes or barns. At Varment Guard, we remove groundhogs that burrow under decks, dig under sheds, and have den holes in landscaping!
What Do Groundhogs Eat?
Groundhogs eat plants such as grass, ferns, leaves of bushes, and fruit. If they awake out of hibernation before new plant growth, they will eat bark and small branches. They will also occasionally eat insects, eggs, young birds, beans, peas, carrot tops, alfalfa, and soybeans. In fact, an adult groundhog can consume over a pound of vegetation each day.
HOW TO GET RID OF GROUNDHOGS:
Buried wire is the best exclusion method for groundhogs gaining access under your porch, deck, shed, sunroom or anywhere else they may dig under.
Varment Guard technicians live-trap groundhogs using live- catch wire cage traps. Live traps are most effective if placed directly in their runways at the burrow or on foraging trails. Traps are baited with variety of fruit and leafy vegetation scent.
At Varment Guard, we get groundhogs out from under decks, sheds, and more. We can quickly and efficiently trap and remove any critter that destroys the foundation on your property. After we remove the groundhogs, we provide you with a pest guard deck barrier.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a Groundhog?
Groundhogs are known as one of the largest members of the squirrel family. They spend most of their time digging elaborate underground burrows and eating plants, grasses, fruits, and tree bark. Additionally, groundhogs can be found in woodland areas. Learn more about groundhogs!
Where Do Groundhogs Come From?
Groundhogs occupy north and eastern North America. They’re common in states east of Iowa and Missouri and north of Tennessee. They prefer open fields, prairies, and the edges of woodlands. Additionally, groundhogs prefer areas where they can dig quickly, easily, and without running into predators or competition. Learn more!
What Do Groundhogs Want?
If you find a groundhog in your yard, it is probably looking for food. Groundhogs are herbivores and feed on a wide variety of plant matter, including vegetables, weeds, flowers, and grasses. Furthermore, they usually gnaw on old wood to keep their teeth healthy. Read more!
Why Do Groundhogs Wake Up in the Spring?
Groundhog mating season begins as soon as the animals wake up in spring time. Male groundhogs wake up, emerge, and immediately start looking for female burrows nearby. Spring mating season is one of the few times groundhogs will socialize. Learn more about groundhog behavior in the spring here!