It’s nearly spring and as the sleeping earth awakens those that sleep beneath its surface wake up as well. A twitching nose and large buck teeth tentatively poke out from the entrance of a burrow, and smelling spring is near, the rest of the groundhog emerges behind it. It cautiously surveys its surroundings and then, following its twitching nose, it heads towards its first meal after the long winter hibernation, your garden.
Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are large rodents of the squirrel family sciurid. Normally 16 to 26 inches long, in areas with abundant food they can grow up to 30 inches long. Groundhogs, as their name suggest, are very good at burrowing, and dig large burrows for themselves as shelter from predators, safe places to sleep, raise young, and a separate burrow for hibernating. A groundhog will excavate as much as 5,500 lbs of dirt to make the average burrow, which will normally have multiple entrances to provide potential escape routes from predators. Groundhogs are one of the few animal species to enter true hibernation and normally sleep from October to March. They’re primarily herbivorous and when they wake up they will be extremely hungry.
Problems Caused By Groundhogs
Groundhogs are largely considered pests for two reasons, their burrows and their voracious vegetarian appetite. As mentioned above, groundhogs are adept diggers and make large burrows. Groundhog burrows are large enough that they can cause damage to machinery that rides over them, or building foundations that they undermine. Their appetite for vegetables also makes them a serious pest for gardeners and farmers alike. A groundhog can wipe out a suburban vegetable garden, and do significant damage to a farmer’s field.
Groundhogs populations are increasing and as they do the problems they cause increase as well. Groundhog populations are increasing for three reasons. The first reasons is that many of their natural predators are gone, or in greatly reduced numbers from their previous populations. The second reason is that the deforestation of the Eastern United States has greatly increased the size of their preferred habitat, fields and forest edges. The final reason for their population increase is that they are fast breeding.
If you have groundhogs burrowing on your property, be careful in approaching the burrow. They can be extremely defensive of their territory, and females will aggressively defend their burrows if they have young. If you want to evict them from their burrows to protect your garden or foundation the are a couple of things you can do. You can wait for when you’re sure the groundhog is out and close the burrow. Or you can try and scare them away using products that smell like groundhog predators and spraying them at the entrance of the burrowers. In both cases you should carefully monitor your property afterwards to make sure they don’t reopen the burrow or simply burrow elsewhere. If you want to be absolutely sure of removing a groundhog then you should seek our an animal control specialist.
Need Help Grounding Groundhogs?
Call Shumaker Animal Control. Shumaker Animal Control is a twenty-five year veteran of the animal control profession and knows how to detect and properly remove groundhogs from your Maryland property. We can also fill any burrows made by groundhogs to keep them out and guarantee against them chewing back through it.
If you have any questions about animal removal, contact Shumaker Animal Control by calling (443) 854-8072 or click here today!