Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Groundhogs

Marmota monax

The warm weather has not only brought out green grass and tender young buds but also Groundhogs to Prairie Ridge.

What is a Groundhog? Groundhogs (Marmota monax) are the largest type of squirrel in North Carolina. They are often called by other names  including: Woodchuck, Gopher, and Whistle Pig. These medium-sized mammals can weigh almost 12 pounds.

A groundhog grazes in the grass at Prairie Ridge        A groundhog finds an apple that has been left as bait        A groundhog searches for food high in the branches of a tree

Can Groundhogs really predict the weather? Though they may not be the most accurate of meteorologists, groundhogs do spend most of the winter hibernating in their burrows and will re-emerge in the spring. Talk about dieting, Groundhogs can lose up to a third of their body weight during winter hibernation!

What do Groundhogs eat? Groundhogs can often be seen during the day grazing on the young grasses, seeds, and buds in open areas near their burrows.  They can also occasionally be spotted in the limbs of trees where they browse on the tender new growth of leaves and twigs.

Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive.