7 things about groundhogs you probably didn't know
- Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are found all over central and eastern US.
- They dig burrows in grassy areas and are known to eat through gardens.
- They're hard to get rid of because they are aggressive animals, and can have rabies.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: If you only saw them on their big day every February, you might think that groundhogs are pretty shy animals. They're actually anything but.
Reporter 1: What started out as a funny sight turned a little bit scary for a man from Hampton.Reporter 2: You see those teeth on that guy?
Narrator: Imagine finding this at your front door. They might be called ground...hogs, but they're not related to hogs at all. They're actually the largest species in the squirrel family, and they are equally ubiquitous.
You can find groundhogs all over the central and eastern US. In Arkansas, for example, there's an estimated 67,000. That's about one groundhog for every 45 humans.
And wherever they are, they make their presence known. Similar to beavers, groundhogs have rapidly growing incisors, which they keep from growing too long by chewing and gnawing on just about anything they can get their teeth on, including cables, hoses, and other rubbery materials. One groundhog reportedly chewed the wires inside of a car in Nebraska, costing $1,800 in damage repairs.
But they don't just wreak havoc aboveground. Groundhogs are burrowers by nature. They live, breed, and hibernate underground. But before they can do that, they have to dig, and dig, and dig, and dig, and dig, and dig. Their tunnels can be anywhere from half a meter deep to 1 1/2 meters deep, and they can be up to 18 meters long. That's about as long as a bowling lane.
Their burrows can harm crops, weaken foundations of buildings, and damage farm equipment that may fall in. In one case, it's been said they dug up bones in a cemetery. But even if you don't have a lot of land, your home could still be a target. Groundhogs like grassy open areas because they don't have big obstacles like tree roots and giant rocks. So that pretty little garden or that freshly mowed lawn, that is a free-for-all for groundhogs.And a fence won't keep them out either because they could just burrow underneath it or climb over. Yeah, that's right, groundhogs can climb too. For example, during floods, they've been known to climb chain-link fences to escape rising water. And just about the only way to keep them out is an electric fence, which can cost between $100 and $350 depending on the size of your yard. And removing a groundhog from your property? Getting a wildlife control professional to help could cost about $400 per groundhog!
Worst comes to worst, you definitely don't want to try and handle them on your own since some groundhogs can be pretty aggressive animals. For example, in 2018, a groundhog chased a woman in the parking lot of her office building. Luckily, she made it to her car. But even then, when her coworkers came to help her, the groundhog forced them to retreat back inside. Even worse, groundhogs have been known to carry rabies, which can make them even more aggressive and dangerous. So maybe don't keep them near your face.