A groundhogs scientific name is Marmota monax, but has other common names like whistlepig or woodchunk.
A groundhog looks like a big rat that weighs between two to four kilos and can measure up to sixty five centimeters in length. Some species however have been known to grow to a much largersize (more than ten kilograms and up to eighty centimeters in length). Yes, they look like really big rats.
Biology and lifecycle
• Generally they are brownish gray in color, with short stubby legs that support their chunky bodies.
• They are among the larger species of the squirrels species and males tend to have bigger bodies than females.
• Unlike other squirrels they are not fast runners. However the location of their eyes, nose and mouth which is on the upper side of their heads ease concealment when hiding in their burrows.
• They are clumsy when trying to run and will generally just seem to waddle away when running away.
• Groundhogs in the wild may live up to three years but in captivity their lifespans can go up to eight years.
• They are born blind, in litters of between four to nine kittens and are born about a month after conception.
• They are fed by their mother’s milk and soon after weaned on grasses and vegetables.
• Groundhogs like sanitary dens and are therefore constantly cleaning their dens and burrows.
• While most animal from the squirrel families will live near human settlements, groundhogs will mostly be found in crop fields near fence lines, forest lines, vegetable fields and any places that are a source of food that are far from humans.
• They dig burrows into the ground which are of no regular shapes or sizes. They are however very keen on having dry the habit of cleaning dens, hence.
Ground hogs are strictly herbivorous. You need not worry that you risk being eaten by one, no matter the size. They like vegetables, grasses, fruits and legumes. If you are a farmer, they may pose danger to your growing crops.
• The worst of their behaviors is burrowing. You may find endless tunnels in your farm, which essentially may destroy your crops.
• During winter, groundhogs are known to hibernate.
• They are generally solitary animals and will seek mates, not for companionship but to mate.
One final thought; while they do not pose any danger to other people, they are a real headache to farmers and can cause immeasurable damage to crops in the fields.