Every year a groundhog family winters over in a burrow under a yew hedge bordering our property. When the pups are old enough to travel, in July, the family picks up and leaves for parts unknown.

Commonly known as “woodchucks” (from the Algonquin name, wuchak), groundhogs hibernate during cold weather in burrows up to 45 feet long and 5 feet down, well below the frost line. Anywhere from 3 to 5 entrances allow for quick entry or escape (one is shown here). Special rooms are dug out for sleeping, rearing young, hibernating and other functions. Groundhogs seldom stray far from the burrow, racing back at the first sign of danger.

These creatures are rodents, and belong to the group of large ground squirrels called “marmots.” They are justly famous for their burrowing, but are also strong tree climbers and swimmers despite their heavy-set appearance. It always amazes me to watch one scramble nimbly up a tree or bush, whether to eat tender leaves, escape a pesky dog, or just to survey its surroundings.

Our “Pup” was caught nibbling the flowers in the top photo, while its mother (not shown) kept a watchful eye nearby, seemingly content with grass. So far, this family has been more interested in eating the neighbors’ flowers, nibbling ours occasionally without doing much damage. Perhaps we have the wrong flowers.

“Pup” was photographed on June 3rd. The handsome fellow at left, whom I guess to be his father, was caught at breakfast a month earlier, on April 30th.

Groundhogs are amazing creatures, despite their irritating habit of eating the garden flowers. There’s a lot more to learn about them. A wonderful source of information is Wikipedia.

Comments are welcome.

 

2 Responses to Groundhog Pup*

  1. Robin Mirollo says:

    Ron, I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a groundhog pup so thanks for sharing. I too had the displeasure of a pair of groundhogs one year who mowed down my portulacas. But the pup is so cute and chubby, that I couldn’t be mad be or stay made at him. We currently have a wild turkey hen with a dozen or so of her poults (turkey chicks) in our neighborhood. Yesterday morning they were in our yard after somehow crossing the busy street in front of our house. I don’t know how she keeps tracking of all those little chicks running around but they do stay pretty close by while learning all the things turkeys need to learn. They’ll rejoin the rest of the brood once they get a little bigger. But for now it’s just this lone female hen and her adorable wee ones.

  2. Claire LeBlanc says:

    This pup is adorable! Although I think they are very cute I do not miss them eating my garden and flowers this year. I have not seen one on Hardy Pond Rd. A few cute rabbits and one adorable bunny is what we have right now.

    Best,
    Claire

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