It is kind of ironic that the vision of the animal we count on for an early spring may just be color blind. Groundhogs differentiate between the light and the dark, which may be why their shadow would frighten them. It is doubtful that they can distinguish between the shadows of various species, and as a prey animal, they would tend to be afraid of most shadows. The reality is that when they emerge from their dens after a winter’s sleep, they are looking for a mate. Aside from reproduction, they could use the company to warm up, as their body temperature can drop from 99° to as low as 37° during hibernation. That’s pretty amazing when you consider that humans experience hypothermia around 95°.
These guys are also known as land beavers, woodchucks, mouse bears, and whistle pigs. Those names are pretty strange considering that they are the largest member of the squirrel family, up to fifteen pounds, although two of the names are based on facts. The woodchuck moniker has no relation to actual wood. It comes from their Native American names, wejack and wuchak. Whistling is a form of communication they use to warn each other when they feel threatened. The pig part may come from their cousins, the guinea pig.
These burrowing creatures are the envy of tunnel builders everywhere. Their burrows can go as far as six feet deep and over 60 feet across. There can be many offshoots from the mainline, with as many as a dozen entry points. They also represent the upper crust of the rodent world, with a home in the grass during warm months and one in the forest for the colder months. Adding to the snobbery are the multiple rooms they use for food storage, nesting, birthing, and going to the bathroom.
From the outside, they appear to be a timid ground-dweller just going about their daily business, but like a silent assassin, they stealthily can create a path of destruction. Their teeth grow about 1/16th of an inch a week, and without constant grinding, the animal would have health issues. Underground water, electric, and fiber optic pipes are easy targets. Their burrowing can also weaken foundations and destroy gardens and agriculture. Above ground, their holes are the perfect size for a foot to plunge into and pose the potential for broken ankles. In Nebraska, one chewed up a car’s wires to the tune of an $1,800 repair.
They are also aggressive by nature, and that can cause issues for people. In 2018, a woman in Maryland was attacked by a groundhog in a parking lot. The woman was able to get away unscathed, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. Witnesses say the animal was trying to bite her.
If groundhogs are causing problems on your property, keep yourself out of harm’s way, and contact New Day Pest Control. We can come out, assess the extent of the issue, and put a plan in place to get you groundhog-free. We are the area’s leading pest and nuisance wildlife experts.