What Do Groundhogs Eat?
Posted In: Mammals.
In case one has a groundhog in their garden, they hardly need any information about it, they know more than well what these squirrel like animals feed on.
The groundhog (Marmota monax) are sometimes called whistle-pig or woodchuck. They are also covered with two layers of fur coat.
The groundhog is a rodent species
It inhabits the central part of the United States. Even though they can be found all over America, the central part of the country has the highest population of groundhogs. They are the largest members of the squirrel family, inhabiting the area where woodlands meet open spaces like fields or rivers. Even though they are usually seen on the ground, they are well capable of climbing trees and are skilled swimmers.
Groundhogs are herbivores
These little rodents are herbivores, meaning they are completely vegetarians. Unfortunately for farmers, these little creatures like to invade the gardens, since they are very tempted to eat their vegetables. Even though they are cute looking little animals, they can destroy one’s garden overnight. They feed mostly during the daytime, when it’s warm and sunny. They usually eat grass, fruits, bark, crops, different types of roots and more or less everything that is green. Roots and barks are an important part of their diet, despite the fact that they prefer fresh, green food. They are not very popular among gardeners since they are known to wipe out all their hard work in a matter of hours. This is the main reason they are considered as pests in that area. Sometimes they can resort to eating insects as well, such as grubs and grasshoppers. Sometimes they climb trees, just to get to the fruits, giving more reason for orchard owners to get rid of them.
Groundhogs do hibernate during winter
This is one of the main reasons they have to eat a lot in summer to be able to survive the long, harsh winter. They hibernate in special burrows, which are built below the frost line. They spend the winter here – usually from October to April. The time of the hibernation depends of the climate, in some areas they can hibernate for almost 6 months while in other regions, they only hibernate for 4 months. In the wild, they can live up to five years, while in captivity they can live from 10 to 12 years. Animals that hunt this creature include wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears and large hawks.
Groundhog hibernation has given way to the American custom of Groundhog Day, which can give us an idea about its popularity in the American culture. The first Groundhog Day was celebrated on the 2nd of February, 1886 in Pennsylvania. The tradition holds that if the sun comes up on this day, then the groundhog will see its shadow, and another six weeks of cold winter will follow.
Their numbers are increasing
Due to severe hunting of wolves and foxes and other predators, the number of groundhogs has seriously increased.