Ground Hogs

Ground Hog

Description

Groundhogs are well adapted for digging, with short, 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

Size

Average size is 17-24 inches (not including the tail) in length and weigh up to 13 lbs.

Diet

Ground Hogs are herbivores. They eat a variety of plants, flowers and vegetables.

Predation

Owls, hawks, foxes and climbing mammals frequently catch and consume these tiny rodents.

Typical Lifespan

Ground Hogs can live 3-6 years..

Habitat

Groundhogs spend most of their time underground in complex burrow systems, which they dig in dry, well-drained soil. Most of the time groundhogs dig their burrows in areas with nearby cover such as fencerows, hedgerows, beside structures, home foundations or trees.

Range

The groundhog prefers open country and the edges of woodland, and is rarely far from a burrow entrance. Since the clearing of forests provided it with a much more suitable habitat the groundhog population is probably higher now than it was before the arrival of European settlers in North America. Groundhogs are often hunted for sport, which tends to control their numbers. However, their ability to reproduce quickly has tended to mitigate the depopulating effects of sport hunting. As a consequence, the groundhog is a familiar animal to many people in the United States and Canada.

Life History and Reproduction

Usually groundhogs breed in their second year, but a small proportion may breed in their first. The breeding season extends from early March to mid- or late April, after hibernation. A mated pair remains in the same den during the gestation period. One litter is produced annually, usually containing two to six blind, hairless and helpless young.

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