What Do Groundhogs Eat? (And You Thought You Knew It!)
Our guide on the groundhog, and their surprising eating habits.
Groundhogs look pretty cute, but they can be a real nuisance for the typical gardener. Their name gives it a way a little – they burrow under the ground. But did you know that they can actually cause great destruction in their wake, wherever it is they go?
That’s right. Groundhogs, for many of, signify the beginning of Spring, and are also commonly known as Woodchucks. However, they can also cause mass destruction to properties and wooden structures, primarily because of their eating habits.
But what do groundhogs actually eat?
Read on for our guide on the groundhog, and its’ eating habits – and you thought you knew it before!
The Different Types of Food and Drink that Groundhogs Consume
Okay, so let’s get down to the important question straight away. What do groundhogs actually tend to eat and drink?
Primarily, the groundhog is a herbivore – or as we like to call them in the human world, vegetarian / vegan.
Because of this, they tend to rely heavily on crops commonly found in the garden. However, some of them, despite their herbivore ways, will snack on insects and worms found in the garden.
Their preferred eating habits are as following:
- Greens, such as alfalfa, lettuce, dandelions, clovers, daisies, hackberry leaves and red mulberries.
- Trees – specifically bark and twigs. They tend to go for black cherry and bark wood in particular.
- Vegetation – such as celery, corn, peas, beans, and carrots. A gardener’s worst nightmare, we’re sure you’ll agree.
- Certain fruits, for example, berries, apples, and cherries.
- Some will even snack on insects, including June bugs, grasshoppers, and even the odd meaty snail.
All of these different “foods” can attract groundhogs, so you’ve guessed it, they’ll love coming into the average garden for a feast. What a nuisance!
The more of this “groundhog food” that you have in your garden, the more likely it is you’ll find yourself with a groundhog problem, and they will create their burrows near to your home.
Fun fact: the groundhog will travel no further than one hundred and fifty feet from its’ home in order to acquire food. Therefore the more food you have on offer, the more likely they are to set up camp within a close radius of your home / garden.
There are certain signs which are a dead give away that you’ve got a groundhog setting up camp near to your home. For example, you might have missing crops / plants, or they may simply be cut off at a sharp angle – as though one of these critters has taken a bite out of them.
Now, groundhogs are pretty hungry creatures – they are “hogs” after all – and therefore they can easily destroy entire areas of plants. Because of this, excess weeds where there were once plants is also an indicator that you may have a groundhog problem.
If you do suspect that you may have a groundhog which has set up camp close to your garden, then you should really consider contacting a pest control professional in order to assess the situation fully, and see what needs to be done.
Are There Eating Habits Seasonal?
Because of their preferred choice of cuisine, there’s every chance you’re left wondering whether or not the eating habits of the groundhog are seasonal.
The answer is yes, depending on the season the eating patterns of a groundhog will change distinctly.
During the Spring and the Autumn seasons, groundhogs will tend to eat in the mid – afternoon, whereas in the Summer they will spend their mornings foraging through gardens and in the late afternoon.
However, the Winter tends to look a little bit different for the groundhog, as it does for most creatures.
Well, in the Winter months, the groundhog doesn’t actually eat at all.
Instead of this, they will spend the other seasons building up their fat reserves, in order to sustain themselves throughout their hibernation period. The hibernation period tends to run from October through to February.
During their hibernation period, they tend to remain out of sight entirely, sleeping in their underground burrows. They’re a lot less hassle in the Winter because they effectively take a break!
As they begin to come near the end of their hibernation period come February, they’ve usually lost weight – as much as half of their body weight – and are therefore ready to fill their boots and put the weight back on again. And so the cycle begins again…
Thanks for reading!
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