Groundhog - Wildlife


Appearance

Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are 20 to 34 inches long (nose to tail) and weigh 5 to 15 pounds. Body color ranges frombrown to yellow-brown with a “frosted” appearance as result of a thick undercoat and long guard hairs.

Behavior

Groundhogs pose little threat to humans, their property or pets. Groundhogs are naturally shy and frighten easily.

Groundhogs are primarily active during the day and sleep in a burrow at night. Groundhogs hibernate late October to February or March, depending on food availability.

Groundhogs breed in March and April. Gestation is 4 to 5 weeks. Young are weaned in late June and July. Young groundhogs leave to establish their own burrow in abandoned dens or burrows of other animals.

Diet

Groundhogs are herbivores. A natural diet includes berries, grains, nuts, plants and grasses. A modified diet can include garden plants and crops such as corn, beans, and alfalfa.

Habitat

Groundhogs inhabit woodland edges, open meadows and grassland, rural, suburban and urban areas of Fairfax County.


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