How big do groundhogs get?
Groundhogs are rodents, under the marmots’ category, hence family to the squirrels.
Characteristics of groundhogs.
• Also called woodchuck, an average adult groundhog weighs between 3 and 6kg and has a body length of up to 0.63m. They are typically ‘large squirrels’.
• They are covered with two layers of fur, the undercoat which is dense and gray in colour and the outer thin coat of yellow-brown/black colour.
• They have short legs, adapted for digging while the claws are thick and curved to maximize ground breaking. This is particularly relevant by the fact that groundhogs live in burrows in hedge ecosystems i.e. meadows, pasture fields, crop fields and even yards.
• Groundhogs are true hibernators. Meaning that during withers, these animals will go into deep sleep, in burrows specially meant for this purpose, usually located in a wooded area and below the frost line. During this period, their body metabolism is reduced to up to 6% the normal rate. They do not feed completely hence need to be at their maximum weight while going into hibernation.
• They are very sensitive and will always sense danger from afar. They usually stand tall on their hind legs when idle and also to look out for any threats. Groundhogs will produce a whistle sound to warn other of incoming danger before escaping to their burrows for cover.
• Their burrows consist of several entry points making it hard for a groundhog to be cornered by an enemy, where in this case they will use their incisors and claws to defend themselves.
• These rather intelligent animals dig up toilet chambers underground for defecation.
• Groundhogs are diurnal, with preference to morning and evening hours to look for food.
• With a gestation period of 31-32days, groundhogs reach sexual maturity not earlier than two years old. Groundhogs breed before going into hibernation only, meaning that they produce one litter annually with four to five young ones per litter.
• The young ones are cared for by the mother, which by then has come out of hibernation, until they can see and have grown fur. At this point, the mother can introduce them to the wild and with the return of the father, the groundhogs learn from their parents.
• Their average lifespan is 2 to 3 years but a wild groundhog can live up to 6years. Those in captivity can live up to 14 years.
• They are omnivorous. Their diet consists of grasses, lichens, leaves, fruits, insects, eggs, carrots, beans, peas, soybeans and young birds among others.
So how big can a groundhog get? 45 to 61 cm from head to rump, a tail length of between 18 to 25cm and weigh up to 6kg.
Read the How to get rid of groundhogs page for helpful information and to learn more about How big do groundhogs get?
How big do groundhogs get?
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