Saturday, April 7, 2012


The last part of the sciuridae series is about groundhogs. Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks, whistle-pigs and sometimes land-beavers.

Groundhogs usually weigh about 2-4 kg and measure about 40-65 cm total length including a short bushy tail that is about 15 cm long. They range in colour from yellowish to dark reddish brown. Their fur is generally grizzled in appearance because of light-coloured tips on the hairs. The belly fur on groundhogs is typically straw-coloured and their feet black.

Groundhogs are widely distributed in North America and are particularly common in the east where they are found from Alabama and Georgia in the United States to Northern Quebec and Ontario. Out west their range extends northward to Alaska and through Southern Yukon and Northwest Territories.

Groundhog eating some flowers
Groundogs are known to eat fresh green vegetation and will they will eat a wide variety of wild plants, clover, alfalfa and garden vegetables. Once in awhile, they will also eat snails, insects or young birds.

In Canada, young groundhogs are born in April and May following a gestation period of 30 days. Females will have one litter of four young per year and the young are born blind and helpless at birth. Young groundhogs are typically about 10 cm in length and weigh about 30 kg. By 5-6 weeks of age the young will start emerging from the burrows and will have been weaned or have made the transition from their mother's milt to solid food.

As they can cause damage to gardens and yards, people usually prefer to have them removed from their property.

Groundhog climbing a tree
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