This furry creature gains its fame from a holiday in its name and is very common in North America. Groundhogs are usually born in April or May and you may begin to see them in the following months. Though these animals can cause burrowing damage to your yard and eat your vegetables, an animal control company can easily remove them. Compiled below are interesting groundhog facts.
1. Groundhogs are rodents. Just like rats, mice, squirrels, and capybaras, groundhogs are rodents, all of which have gnawing habits.
2. Groundhogs live as far north as Alaska and as far south as Alabama. The groundhog population is likely higher now than before settlers reached North America and cleared forests, since there is much more burrowing space.
3. Groundhogs are clean animals. In fact they are resistant to plagues that wipe out other wild animal species, and a contributing factor is their cleanliness. They wipe their face after eating and lick their fur clean.
4. Groundhogs hibernate, hard! Groundhogs go into a very deep hibernation, like a coma, and their body temperature drops, blood flows very slowly, and breathing nearly stops.
5. Groundhogs help humans study hepatitis B- induced liver cancer. A portion of the groundhog population is infected with woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) and is one of the only species that scientists can study and compare to viral hepatitis in humans.
6. Groundhogs have helped reveal an archaeological site. Numerous artifacts have been found because of the burrowing activity of groundhogs at the Ufferman Site in Ohio.
7. Groundhogs do not drink water, usually. This is because groundhogs get most of their water content from the plants they eat and any rainwater collected on them.
8. Groundhog burrows can be huge. These critters dig burrows up to 5 feet underground with 46 feet of connected tunneling. It’s estimated that the average groundhog moves 5,500 lbs of soil when digging a burrow.
This final groundhog fact really points out why groundhogs are considered pests. Their burrows can cause significant structural damage to a home. Plus they can cause major damage to home gardens and farmer’s crops. If your yard is being overrun by groundhogs call animal control immediately.
Groundhogs were first made famous thanks to a small newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A writer for the local paper declared that since ground hogs did not see their shadow, spring would arrive early. This led to the legend of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who lets us know how soon spring will come. Then of course there is the cult classic movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. While you might be familiar with the pop culture surrounding the groundhog (or woodchuck as they are also known) here are 10 facts you may not be aware of.
- When a groundhog hibernates, his heart rate slows from 80 bpm to just 5..
- The groundhog’s breathing slows from about 16 breaths per minute to as few as two.
- Groundhogs are one of the few animals that are true hibernators. They fatten up in the warm seasons and then sleep for the majority of the three months of winter.
- While groundhogs hibernate, they go approximately 150 days without eating any food. During that time, they only lose about a quarter of their body weight thanks to slow metabolism.
- During hibernation the body temperature of a groundhog can drop as much as 60 degrees! At the start of hibernation a groundhog may have a body temperature of 99 degrees, but it can go as low as 37 degrees. For comparison, humans can die if their body temp drops to 70 or below.
- While it is still warm out, groundhogs may eat up to a pound of food. That’s the same as a 200 pound person eating a 20 pound steak!
- To keep up with this roaring appetite, groundhogs have upper and lower incisor teeth that grow nearly 1/16 of an inch each week!
- These incisors grind during each bite, so proper alignment is critical. Otherwise, they will keep growing and if too long, upper incisors can impale the lower jaw.
- The phrase escape tunnels probably came from groundhogs! The burrows these animals make are their escape route from enemies. Groundhogs cannot run much faster than 8 mph, while foxes top out around 25 mph. Luckily these burrows keep them one step ahead.
- These burrows can be as much as 6 feet deep, and loop around underground for 20 feet or more. They also typically have two entrances but in some cases, there may be up to a dozen.
If you notice signs of groundhog damage on your property, contact Attic Solutions for professional groundhog removal.
Usually when we think about groundhogs, we are reminded of Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who lets us know how soon spring will come, or the awesome Billy Murray movie “Groundhog Day.” Well, groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) are not just for movies and forecasting weather. They live among us, and might even be responsible for damaging your yard. To find out if you have your very own Punxsutawney Phil living in your backyard look for the following signs.
- A vegetable in your garden has a large bite taken out of it.
- The green leafy parts of your carrots have been eaten.
- You have a large 10 to 12 inch hole in your backyard (many times next to a tree or fence) with a mound of dirt surrounding it. This hole could also be under your deck or shed. Ground hog tunnels typically have two entrances, can be up to 5 feet deep, and are up to 60 feet long.
- Your fruit tree has been gnawed on.
- You see a ground hog. They are not all that shy and sleep during the night so if one moved into your yard it wouldn’t be surprising if you caught him sunning himself.
- Groundhogs use distinct sounds to communicate. Listen for whistling, squeals, barks, and clicks.
If you want to evict your groundhog, the best bet is to remove whatever is attracting him, but that is not so easy if you do not want to destroy your garden. The next best thing is to fence in your plants. For ground hogs, you need a fence at least 3 feet high, buried 2 inches into the ground. You can also close off entrances to the ground hog’s tunnels when they are empty.