Groundhog

Groundhog Facts and Information

Marmota monax

 

Introduction to Groundhog

The Groundhog has been famous for being involved with predicting if we will have an early Spring or a long Winter. This particular creature belongs to the rodent family. It can vary in size depending on the location and what it is eating.

 

Class  Mammalia
Order  Rodentia
Family  Sciuridae
Genus  Marmota
Conservation status  Least Concern

Groundhog Description

The size of the Groundhog can be from 16 to 26 inches long. They can range in weight from 4 to 9 pounds. They have a body that is round with a small face and small ears. They have powerful appendages with claws on them that make it very easy for them to dig with. They have a short tail and they have a curved spine that allows them to have a great deal of flexibility and agility.

The fur of the Groundhog actually has two parts to it. They have an undercoat that is very dense and it is gray in color. They also have a longer outer coat that can be a variety of shades of brown.

Groundhog Distribution

You will find the Groundhog living in many regions around North America. It is also a creature that is widely distributed in areas around the United States. Alabama happens to have the highest number of them. It may surprise you to discover that even in colder regions such as Alaska you will find the Groundhog.

They create burrows under the ground where they rest, store food, and where they go to find shade from the hot sun. They also try to avoid predators in there. However, it is possible for some predators including Snakes to get into those burrows.

Groundhog Behavior

The Groundhog does take part in hibernating during the colder times of the year. This has more to do with slowing down the body because of the lack of food available though than them not being able to stand the cooler temperatures. They will hibernate in their burrows.

They can dig for a very long time to create a perfect burrow. In fact, by the time they are done they may have moved more than 700 pounds of dirt! These burrows can be 5 feet under the ground and they can be more than 35 feet wide. They create many entrances and exits for their burrow. This helps them to be able to quickly get in and out if they should have any risk of danger around them.

Groundhog Facts

Groundhog – Marmota monax / Photo taken by Kermit150261

Groundhog Feeding

There are several food sources that the Groundhog relies on for their survival. They tend to consume mainly plants and grasses. During certain seasons they may consume berries from bushes as well. Many people don’t realize though that the Groundhog also consume insects, snails, and grasshoppers. They do consume nuts too but they don’t store them up for winter like many people assume. Sometimes they will take extra food and store it in their burrow.

Groundhog Reproduction

The Groundhog is usually ready to make when they are 2 years of age. They will mate in the months of February and May. The male will stay with the female during the 32 day gestation period. However, as the birth of the young approaches she will make him leave.

The litter can consist of from 3 to 9 young. They are born blind and depend on their mother. She will feed them milk from her body. When they are about 6 weeks old though they are old enough to venture out and to make their own dens.

The life span for the Groundhog is can be up to 6 years in the wild. However, in captivity they are able to thrive for significantly longer periods of time. One in particular, called Wiarton Willie lived to be 22 years old.

 

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