Groundhogs at Burrow
By Susan Fly
It’s a mom and pop business for now, with both male and female woodchucks (Marmota monax) sharing this burrow. That arrangement will end once the mom gives birth – when dad will take his cue and depart. These two woodchucks are distinct from one another in that the female (my guess) has a full bushy tail and lush coat, and the male has a dark patch on his side and bare tail. My game camera tells me that they’re a pretty tolerant duo, allowing chipmunks, squirrels, and mice to nose around the entry hole. An inquisitive weasel may create cause for concern beyond the usual woodchuck predators of fox and coyote. I’m hopeful that the camera will capture some shots of the young offspring once they venture forth in a few weeks.
For denning, groundhogs typically choose slopes with well drained soil in fields and forest edge. This pair chose edge habitat.
Animals often visit homes and holes created by others, whether they’re looking to steal a cache, to make a meal of the occupants, or simply to have a look around. So I wasn’t surprised to see the smaller rodents at the woodchuck den.
More interesting, and of greater danger to a sleeping groundhog, was this short-tailed weasel. A subsequent photo revealed that he at least poked his head into the hole. The woodchuck pair must have dealt effectively with this intruder, for the following day, they were out and about as usual.