Humans are social creatures, and while living alone can be exciting, humans tend to stay in houses with at least one other family member or friend. The same isn’t always true for groundhogs, those cute little critters who help us determine if spring is right around the corner or will be several more weeks in the making.
Groundhogs are the most solitary member of the marmot family (which includes squirrels and prairie dogs), and they generally are quite anti-social and spend most of their time alone.
Groundhogs live in underground burrows, called settes, which they dig out. These burrows tend to be very elaborate and expansive- some can even be up to 80 feet long, with multiple levels and entrances.
They usually live alone in these burrows and get angry if another groundhog tries to come in. If that happens, they will fluff up their tail and start hopping and make chattering noises with their teeth.
Considering that groundhogs only weigh between 4-14 pounds and are between 2 and 4 feet long, that is a big burrow to manage all on their own!
A groundhog mother keeps her babies close at first because when they are born they can’t see and they don’t have any hair, making them pretty fragile and vulnerable. However, by the time they are 5-6 weeks old, the young groundhogs make their own way into the big, wide world.
The father groundhog usually leaves the sette before the babies are born and sometimes rejoins the family once they are old enough to go outside, but otherwise each family member lives a pretty solitary life.
Even though groundhogs live alone and aren’t very social, they do watch out for the general groundhog community for their own collective wellbeing. When groundhogs are outside eating, they will take a break sometimes to check for danger. They do this by standing upright, staying very still, and scanning the distance for any predators or potential threats.
If they do see something, they let out a shrill shriek to alert all the other groundhogs so that they can all retreat in their settes. This shows that even though they live separately, they depend on their community to maintain the safety of everyone.
That’s everything there is to know about groundhogs living alone. It must be a lot of work to live as a groundhog in this big, wild world!