Woodchucks

Woodchucks

Woodchucks, groundhog, and whistle pigs are all the same animal, Marmota monax, all belonging to the rodent family, which also includes our common squirrels. The woodchucks color may vary from a grizzled brownish gray to black. This compact animal has a chunky body with relatively short legs and short tail. Just mention this animal to any gardener and you will evoke a response ranging from shear fear to uncontrollable anger to frustration. These quick scurrying creatures are capable of stripping a beautiful garden in a matter of a few hours. Chasing them away only encourages them to return quickly. Besides the early morning and late afternoon raids on lettuce and flower patches, woodchucks are mostly known for digging large burrows in various places on the homeowner’s property–mostly under low lying decks, front and back door steps, or any outbuildings or structures situated on concrete or wood slabs. Burrows are identified by large mounds of earth surrounding the animal’s opening of 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

The best time of the year to locate these den sites is in early spring, before the new foliage has a chance to conceal them once again. This is also the best time to trap and relocate them as when they emerge from hibernation, they are very hungry and food is at a premium. Woodchucks in our area breed in March and April and the average litter will be four young, so it’s best to remove them before you’re dealing with a small city of furry creatures.
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