What do groundhogs eat?
Groundhogs could be classed as the original hibernators, their hibernation habits has led to Groundhog day tradition.
Groundhogs also known as “woodchucks” or “whistle pigs” (Marmota monax) due to their habit of making a high-pitched whistling sound used to alert other groundhogs of danger. These animals can cause large damage to your property due to their chaotic eating habits. Also they spend their time digging up your soil creating holes all over your yard.
Homeowners across the United states constantly find themselves dealing with these animals as they dig burrows all over the yard and cause lots of damage to garden plants.
It’s important to first understand what type of animal a groundhog is before learning about what it eats. What do groundhogs eat to make them such a pain? We’ve broken down this question.
In this guide we shall cover plenty of ground (pun intended):
What type of animal is a groundhog?
Groundhogs are actually large squirrels, weighing up to 15 pounds and are the largest members of the squirrel family “Scicuridae” they belong to the tribe of marmots or ground squirrels which also includes chipmunks.
Woodchucks are powerful diggers capable of making large, complex burrows. The average Groundhog is commonly known to feast during the summer to build up enough fat reserves to hibernate through winter, makes sense right? Especially with that cuddly looking winter coat of theirs.
Ground hog mating season takes place in early spring and their pregnancy is one month long. For these animals their litter normally consists of two to six blind, hairless babies. Young ground hogs are called pups or kits and reach sexual maturity by two years old. So their mothers spend time making sure these babies adapt to their environment. They normally live up to six years in the wild.
Why are Groundhogs so annoying?
Adult groundhogs spend the majority of their time, burrowing, looking after their young and searching for something to eat. They have sharp long claws on their paws which is useful for pushing soil and ground around in order to create complex underground burrows.
Where do Groundhogs live?
Groundhogs like to live in wooded areas, particularly at the edge of forests. Most woodchucks dig themselves a complex underground burrow for their home. These burrows can be up to six feet deep, twenty feet in width and have multiple entrances. Unlike most animals, males and females do not live together, only in spring do the males visit females for the mating season.
So what do groundhogs eat?
So, what do they actually eat? Groundhogs are predominately herbivores however they will sometimes feed on insects. Other food sources include:
- Vegetation such as lettuce, clovers, dandelions, daises and also hackberry leaves
- Trees especially bark and fallen twigs such as black cherry and dogwood
- Vegetables such as carrots, corn, peas and beans
- Fruits such as berries, cherries, pears and apples
- Insects such as grubs, snails and grasshoppers though this is less often
Groundhogs stay close to their homes
Groundhogs travel no further than 150 feet away from their home in search for something to eat. So these pesky animals will be in close proximity if you grow your own produce as this we be the perfect food source for them.
Common signs of groundhogs normally include missing crops or plants that have been sharply cut at an angle. If you suspect that a woodchuck is trespassing on your property and destroying your garden, consider contacting a pest control expert to assess the issue as soon as possible.
How to protect your garden areas from groundhogs?
Groundhogs are quite clever and shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s easy for them to find their way into your garden, especially if they can smell food such as beans or other crops.
Follow these simple steps to help prevent ground hogs from ruining your garden:
- Install a fence at least 4ft high around your yard or veggies
- Spread a woodchuck repellent around your yard
- Install an ultrasonic pest repeller in areas where you’ve seen a burrow
- Harvest crops as soon as they are ready
- Sprinkle red pepper on and around your plants
- Also you could try tying a Mylar party balloon near their burrow to scare them away acting as a natural form of pest control
Groundhogs have a remarkable climbing ability but might be deterred by a high fence on their search for food. They don’t like humans and will actively avoid any area with a repellent especially an electronic one. If you take away their food source, then they have no reason to come in.
Furthermore, they don’t like the taste of red pepper and won’t want to eat any plants sprinkled with it. (Remember to wash this off before you eat them) Finally, because the Mylar balloon is reflective it’s been found to deter these pests as it scares them.
Can groundhogs bother people?
Groundhogs don’t like humans and won’t go near them, they’ll likely run away and hide in their burrows. However there’s not a high chance you’ll see them during the day.
It’s not unknown for them to be repelled by the smell of humans, there’s articles where people have left scented objects like clothing covered in perfume near burrow openings to scare them away.
Are my pets in danger?
Although Groundhogs do bite, they normally only do this when they feel threatened or their young ones are threatened. For a groundhog to bite a dog or cat is extremely rare mainly due to them not being seen during the day, but it could happen if the groundhog is backed into a corner.
This could be potentially dangerous as groundhogs are known to carry rabies. If your pet is bitten by a groundhog (or any other animal) take it to see a vet for treatment as soon as possible.
Summary of the Groundhog diet
So there we have it, when they aren’t in hibernation – Groundhogs are seeking to destroy your natural produce and gardens.
Be sure to follow our helpful tips and advice to prevent a pesky Groundhog from destroying your garden and eating your vegetables. We hope this guide was useful to you, for more guides check below.
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