|How to Outwit Other Critters|
Groundhog habitat includes woodlot edges and close proximity to creeks and streams in the wild. They have a preference for open areas over dense forests which is why they have been so successful since North America was first visited by the European nations. When they settle around human habitation the generally will make their homes in farmers fields, next to gardens and along roadways. Sometimes they will make their burrow entrances near buildings and under decks, but they rarely cause any damage to structures because of this.
The Groundhog is found throughout eastern Us and Canada extended into central and Northwest Canada reaching as far north as Alaska. Their expansion westward has been attributed to the creation of desirable habitat through the westward march of the early settlers. Closer to home the animals do not stray much further than 50 yards from their underground homes.
Woodchuck habitat includes a very wide climate range, however, it does have its limitations. Woodchucks are not currently found much further south than northern Alabama and Oklahoma and are not found in the western half the US at all. They do not like to be too hot!
Actual groundhog habitat varies depending on specific location, but specific soils are preferred or others. For example, in Alaska the marmots make their homes in wind deposited soils that are located near river valleys and dry lowlands. Yet, for the most part this ground dweller is partial to loam or sandy loam soils.
Groundhogs are burrowing animals sleeping and hiding safe and warm under the natural blanket of mother earth. The will general prefer fields and clearings for their burrow locations but are sometime opportunistic and locate them nearby a guaranteed food source such of your well maintained vegetable plots! Burrows serve many purposes including raising young, sleeping and hibernating, mating and protection.
Burrows can be fairly complex. There will be a main tunnel entrance and several "spy" holes in which to look for food and/or dive into when they are above ground foraging. In some occurrences there will be a least one hole that goes straight down as a means of escape from their many predators. They are very sanitary animals and their burrows reflect this with separate sleeping and excrement chambers. They change their nesting materials quite often, too!
Dimensions of the burrows are generally about 8-60 feet long. Groundhogs have winter and summer burrows. Winter burrows are normally in more forested areas and as much five (5) feet deep. It is important that the winter burrows are far below the frost line so they don’t freeze during their winter sleep period.
Entrance holes of each burrow is normally about 10” to 12” in diameter with many older or abandoned burrows becoming home for young groundhogs or other mammals such as rabbits, weasels, etc.
In general, the whistle pigs success has grown with ours as we settled the North American continent. While you wont find the animals too common west of the Mississippi, they very prevalent in the eastern US which provides excellent groundhog habitat.