Marmota monax 

Groundhog - Marmota monax
Color: Gray, brown or black
Legs: 4
Shape: Long
Size: 16 to 20 inches long
Antennae: No
Region: Throughout the U.S.

The Groundhog - also known as woodchuck, whistle-pig, or in some areas as a land-beaver, is a rodent belonging to a large group of land squirrels known as marmots.

Habits

Groundhogs are well adapted for digging, with short but powerful limbs and curved, thick claws. Unlike other sciurids, the groundhog's spine is curved, more like that of a mole, and the tail is comparably shorter as well—only about one-fourth of body length. Suited to their temperate habitat, groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur: a dense grey undercoat and a longer coat of banded guard hairs that gives the groundhog its distinctive "frosted" appearance.

Habitat

Mostly herbivorous groundhogs primarily eat wild grasses and other vegetation, including berries and agricultural crops, when available. Groundhogs also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, snails and other small animals. Like squirrels they also have been observed sitting up eating nuts such as shagbark hickory - but unlike squirrels do not bury them for future use. Groundhogs hydrate through eating leafy plants rather than from a natural water source.

Groundhogs are excellent burrowers, using burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernating. The average groundhog has been estimated to move approximately 35 cubic feet, or 710 lb, of dirt when digging a burrow. Though groundhogs are the most solitary of the marmots, several individuals may occupy the same burrow. Groundhog burrows usually have two to five entrances, providing groundhogs their primary means of escape from predators. Burrows are particularly large, with up to 46 feet of tunnels buried up to 5 feet underground, and can pose a serious threat to agricultural and residential development by damaging farm machinery and even undermining building foundations

Threats

Groundhogs are not a significant source of infectious diseases transmittable to humans. They can contract rabies, and may become very aggressive in the final stages of the disease.

Prevention

Remove ground cover around the burrows, partially digging out the entryways may encourage them to leave an area.

* Information courtesy of Wikipedia

* Image courtesy of User EIC, Wikipedia Commons

 

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