Groundhogs go by many names, depending which part of the country you live. In the East they're also known as woodchucks, while in the West, they go by marmots. No matter what you call them, they can quickly wreak havoc on your garden and plants.
The groundhog is an herbivore, and they can consume 1 to 1 0.5 pounds of vegetation daily. An average groundhog can get up to 14lbs and is very stocky. They like to travel low to the ground, hence the name groundhog. Groundhogs are hearty animals and will live from 4 to 6 years.
Groundhogs burrow near homes and under patios and garages. Their extensive burrowing can lead to collapsed foundations or slabs. Their system of burrowing is usually 2-4 ft below the ground and can be recognized by piles of fresh dirt around the opening. Groundhogs can also be found in pastures, fields and along embankments.
The groundhog is most active in the spring during the warmer parts of the morning and afternoon. Most of the day is spent sleeping underground. They spend the hottest part of the day during the summer in their burrows and in the winter, they hibernate. Groundhogs will usually not emerge from their burrow on rainy days. In February, the groundhogs will come out from hibernation, mate, and in a month, litters of 4 to 6 offspring are born.
Being vigilant with any burrowing animal is the key to protecting your garden and your home. Keep an eye out for any fresh piles of dirt that may signify groundhog activity and address it early before you have to deal with major foundation repairs.
Removing groundhogs is best handled by a pest control professional. There are various methods that are effective, so be sure to select the most appropriate treatment.