You might have seen a groundhog before, but not recognize it. These small animals are very similar looking to squirrels, chipmunks, and even small-sized beavers. So, it’s very easy to confuse a groundhog with any of those animals. Now, if you see a nibbling groundhog, you might wonder what they are eating. So, to answer your question, they can be eating one of many things. Their diet, like ours, changes over time, season, and availability. So, without any further ado, let’s take a quick look at what do groundhogs eat and some more things in our following segment!
What is a Groundhog & How Do They Look?
To go into the factual side of this blog, let’s know a bit about what groundhogs actually are. Groundhogs, or woodchucks are a family of rodents belonging to a much larger family of squirrels called “Marmots”. Now, groundhogs are mostly based in the North American region, so chances of spotting groundhogs there are extremely high.
They are an important group of mammals, as they’re exceptional in increasing soil fertility in plains and can survive without being in a rocky or hilly area (which is not a common trait among Marmots). These cute creatures are the “lone wolf” of their kind and can survive through many seasons alone. Moreover, they do not require permanent company or attachments and migrate from one living area to the other. Their life span ranges from 6 years, and the highest they can live is up to 14 years.
What Do Groundhogs Eat?
Groundhogs eat a variety of things, ranging from plants to animals. They are technically classified as herbivores, but due to the fact that they eat small portions of insects, some people prefer classifying them as omnivores.
Groundhogs As Herbivores!
A groundhog’s diet varies according to their geographical location. As herbivores, they eat lettuce, berries, beans, alfalfa, carrots, peas, clovers, and different types of leaves. It’s also possible that their diet includes a healthy combination of leaves and berries. If you happen to answer the question about what do groundhogs eat, one can easily say they would love to munch on some fruits like cherries, apples, and pears in their diet.
As herbivores, one can classify their choices as primary and secondary too!
Examples Of Primary Herbivore Choices Of Groundhogs!
Some of the primary choices groundhogs would like are:
There are many more choices that they would prefer but you can consider these are the primary ones.
Examples Of Secondary Herbivore Choices Of Groundhogs!
Some of the secondary choices groundhogs would like to make are:
Now that I’ve clearly given you a glimpse of how their vegetarian platter might look, let’s take a quick look at the Carnivorous side of groundhogs.
Groundhogs As Carnivores!
These fluffy creatures also like to eat some small insects like snails and grasshoppers. This dietary behavior is not common across all groundhogs and depends according to where the groundhog lives. But they eat insects in very small, almost negligible amounts.
Some of the time, it’s noticed that groundhogs like to munch on little insects and worms too. But this usually happens when they are not provided with enough food or there is a scarcity. At times, it is also seen that groundhogs are consuming their feces too. It’s beneficial for their health but this happens on rare occasions.
Groundhogs Eating Habits: A Seasonal Diet
As we have mentioned earlier, a groundhog’s eating habits change depending on the weather, the availability, and the geographical conditions. So, they eat different things depending on different seasons and during the colder months, they hibernate to conserve their energy.
In summer, they eat their regular greens and leaves like lettuce and maple leaves. They also eat smaller summer insects like grasshoppers. In the fall, they feed on the fallen bark, twigs, and leaves. However, since they will hibernate, they store most of the food that they eat. They also eat a lot of insects around this time to bulk up for the colder months. Now, during winter, a groundhog is in hibernation. they require less food to survive. But if they want to eat, they’ll eat from the food they stored during the fall.
How Long Do Groundhogs Live?
The lifespan of a groundhog differs due to the conditions that a groundhog lives in. An average lifespan is 2-3 years, but some groundhogs can even live up to 13-14 years, especially when they’re kept in captivity. They usually mate when they’re almost 2 years old and it usually happens around springtime.
5 Unknown Facts About Groundhogs to Know
Now, since we know about what do groundhogs eat, let us take a look at five cool facts about groundhogs!
- Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks. This name doesn’t come from the fact that they burrow their teeth in wood. Its origin can be traced to a native American name “wuchak” which originated in the Appalachian hills.
- Groundhogs are not that different from squirrels. They actually come from a larger family of squirrels called “Marmots” and their behavior and appearance are extremely similar to squirrels, causing confusion even to the trained eye.
- The groundhogs are “habitat architects”. They eat a variety of things from our habitat, especially the unwanted pests. So, they technically do a cleanup of our nature.
- Pregnancy is not a long and tortured process for them. As we have said before, they usually mate around springtime, and the birth happens fairly fast. Moreover, they are the only true hibernators among the mammal family. They hibernate mostly in September-November and come out from hibernation during February.
- Groundhog Day is a national holiday in America celebrated every year on the 2nd of February.
I hope that this blog about what do groundhogs eat was informative and exciting. Many of us confuse groundhogs with other creatures from the same family, and while this mistake is completely understandable, a groundhog is very different from other rodents. They are individualistic as well. And if you live in a place where you encounter these sweet creatures, remember to be kind. And feed them something. However, keep a safe distance from them as they might be intriguing for you to cuddle them, but if they belong to any other breed, you might end up being bitten. Let me know your thoughts below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Why do they call them woodchucks?
Ans. The name originates from a native Appalachian name used for them. They used to be called “wuchak” and it led to the name “woodchuck”.
Q2. Are woodchucks aggressive?
Ans. They are not aggressive creatures, but if they feel threatened, they will definitely attack. If you get bitten by a woodchuck, you might catch rabies, so look out for them.
Q3. Do they stay alone?
Ans. Woodchucks are extremely solitary creatures. But they look out for their own and are extremely protective of their offspring.