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Groundhogs

They are also known as woodchucks, land-beavers & "whistle pigs" from their habit of emitting a loud whistle to alert other groundhogs of danger.

Identification

  • English( scientific ) Name : - Marmota Monax
  • They are mammals belonging to the Rodentia order, (which include mice, rats & hamsters) & are the largest of the Sciuriade family, (which include squirrels, chipmunks & marmots).
  • While a mature groundhog who is residing in an area where he has few predators & an abundant supply of alfalfa may grow up to 30 inches in length & weigh as much as 31 pounds, they are typically known to measure anywhere from 16 to 26 inches in length & weigh in between 5 & 10 pounds.
  • They have a stocky build, short legs & a tail that is of medium length.
  • They have a broad & flattened head with short ears & a blunt nose.
  • At approximately 6 inches in length, the groundhog's flattened tail varies in color from dark-brown to black & is comparably shorter to that of its sciurid cousins, measuring only about one-fourth of its overall body length.

Behavior

  • They can swim and climb trees to escape predators.
  • They dig tunnels in the ground over 40 feet long and 5 deep.
  • Their diet consists primarily of plant material like wild grasses & berries but they also like agricultural crops, especially alfalfa. They also eat grubs, insects & snails.

Life Cycle

  • The life span of a groundhog is about 10 yeas in captivity and 6 in the wild but Wiarton Willie in Wiarton, Ontario is said to be 22.
  • They hibernate from October to March or April & often build a special burrow just for that purpose.
  • Groundhog pairs mate in the spring & have a litter of 2-6 helpless offspring that are ready to be on their own in 5-6 weeks. Dad leaves the den just before the darlings arrive.

Control

  • To control groundhog, you'll want to wait until spring or summer, when the days are sunny & temperate, otherwise no matter how bad it gets the animals won't want to leave their burrows. Then, buy some sudsy or cloudy ammonia from a store & pour a great deal of it into a burrow. If you can't find sudsy ammonia, you can make your own by adding eight parts ammonia to one part water to two spoonfuls of detergent and mixing it. Once the ammonia permeates the burrow the groundhogs will leave within a day or so, providing they have no young. If they do have children, they will first find a replacement burrow, then come back for the young & then leave, which can take a few days.
  • Using a safe trap of some sort is another humane, less toxic, way to get rid of groundhogs. They are fairly smart animals, so you'll have to be patient, but within a few days you should begin catching groundhogs & within a week or so you can relocate an entire population. To begin with, you'll want to leave the trap open & unset, with small amounts of food in it. This lets the groundhogs get used to the idea of a safe meal, and since the traps can sometimes take a while to be triggered, it means they'll spend plenty of time in it. After a few days of this, set the trap, and you should catch your groundhog. Cover the cage with a blanket & relocate the animal far away, just leaving the cage open for it to wander out of. Repeat this tactic until all of the groundhogs are gone.
  • You can also use fumigation canisters, or use lethal traps or a gun to eliminate a groundhog population.

All three of these methods may be illegal in some areas, so it's important to check with a local conservation association or fish and game office, to make sure you aren't breaking any laws. Of these, shooting the animals is the preferred method of control, but care must be taken that local hunting laws aren't being broken.

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