Groundhogs can do more than determine the timeline for the arrival of spring. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, can cause major destruction to homes and properties due to their eating habits. What do groundhogs do that make them so troublesome? To best answer this question, let’s first understand their favorite types of foods and eating patterns.
Types of Food
So, what do groundhogs eat and drink? Groundhogs are primarily herbivores and rely on typical garden crops; however, they will sometimes feed on some insects and worms:
- Greens like lettuce, alfalfa, clovers, dandelions, daisies, red mulberry and hackberry leaves
- Trees (specifically bark and twigs) like black cherry and dogwood
- Vegetation like carrots, celery, corn, peas, and beans
- Fruits like berries, cherries and apples
- Insects like June bugs, snails and grasshoppers
These foods can attract groundhogs. Thus, the more groundhog food you have in your garden, the more likely these critters will be to create burrows near your home. This is especially true since groundhogs travel no further than 150 feet from their home for food.
Signs of groundhogs on your property can include missing crops or plants that have been sharply cut at an angle. Since groundhogs can eliminate entire areas of plants, excess weeds in these areas can also indicate groundhog habitation on your property. If you suspect that a groundhog is rummaging through your garden, consider contacting a pest control professional to help assess and mitigate the issue as soon as possible.
Seasonal Eating Patterns
Groundhogs have distinct eating patterns that vary depending on the season. During the spring and fall, groundhogs eat during the mid-afternoon. They forage through gardens in the mornings and late afternoons during the summer. But what do groundhogs eat during the winter? They don’t. Instead, they build up fat reserves during the year to sustain them during their hibernation period from October to February. During this time, they hibernate in underground burrows and remain out of sight. As they near the end of hibernation in February, groundhogs have already lost half of their body weight and are ready to start feeding again.
The claws on the front feet of groundhogs are ideal for digging tunnels/burrows. These burrows can pose problems for your property, especially if they’re near your home. In some cases, the openings of burrows can be 10-12 inches in diameter and can be a hazard (e.g., twisted ankle, broken leg, etc.) if a person and/or animal unknowingly steps in these areas of excavated soil. Burrows can extend as far as 66 feet wide and 5 feet deep. Rain water can trickle into burrows and potentially damage your foundation over time. Although groundhogs typically feed on plants, they may also gnaw at electrical wires, irrigation systems, and hoses as they burrow underground. These issues can cause serious damage and complications to your property. Groundhogs can also create openings with no mound to help them escape from predators, making them difficult to identify. Trained pest control technicians can help identify suspected groundhog burrows and help provide a solution.
To help identify and potentially exclude or remove groundhogs from around your home, consider scheduling an appointment with Terminix®. Our trained technicians have robust knowledge on the behaviors and patterns of groundhogs and can provide advice and pest control solutions. Trained technicians can determine how to effectively remove or prevent them and customize a solution to help keep them from returning.