Groundhogs in North Carolina
Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, are large rodents and are widely distributed across the United States. Groundhogs are among the few animals that are true hibernators, fattening up in spring and summer and hibernating in burrows during the winter months. Groundhogs are very common in rural areas but are also frequently seen in suburban neighborhoods. The groundhog is actually a member of the squirrel family, and its front feet are very powerful tools used for digging burrows. Groundhogs can become a real pest for homeowners as they burrow under vegetable and flower gardens, sheds, and outdoor structures.
These large rodents are herbivores, and a groundhog’s diet can include fruit, plants, tree bark, and grasses. Groundhogs dig burrows near vegetation that can be as deep as five feet and generally have more than one entrance. The entrance hole is made larger as the animal grows and will eventually be a foot wide with a mound of soil around it. Burrow entrances are usually well-hidden and can be difficult to find. Groundhogs often hide these holes by digging them underneath vegetation or loosely covering them up with leaves and sticks. The network of tunnels can cover an area underground ranging from 8 to 66 feet and is used for several years.
Groundhog Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers
Groundhogs are docile creatures, rarely come in contact with people, and pose no major public health hazards. They are considered nuisance pests because they are capable of causing extensive damage to home gardens, lawns, and orchards as a result of their feeding and burrowing habits. When burrowing, groundhogs have been known to destroy building foundations, create unwanted holes on lawns and cause electrical outages from gnawing on underground wires. If an infestation is suspected, contact a licensed wildlife control professional.