Dangers And Threats to Groundhogs (Your Questions Answered)

Groundhogs are rodent troublemakers that belong to the Sciuridae family native only to North America. They are relentless diggers, excellent swimmers, and ferocious plant-eaters. Groundhogs are known to dig and eat through crops, gardens, farms, and private properties, and they can cause a lot of damage.

This is why groundhogs are considered pests. 

Aside from humans, groundhogs face dangers and threats from the destruction of natural habitats, urbanization, pollution, extreme weather, and bigger animal predators.

What Are The Biggest Threats To Groundhogs?

The biggest threats to groundhogs are humans and the destruction of their natural habitats.

Humans

Humans pose the biggest threat to groundhogs. Whether they are invading private property or in their natural habitat, groundhogs are driven away. People use different tactics like:

  • Pest Control & Extermination
  • Hunting
  • Trapping and Baiting
  • Poisoning, and many others

People forget that like other animals, groundhogs call this planet home too.

Destruction of Natural Habitat

Groundhogs live in fields, forest edges, near streams, open clearings, and roadsides. Every year, these natural habitats are cleared for agricultural purposes or other human uses.

Communication towers take over fields, homes are built in open clearings, and millions of acres of forests are destroyed every decade. And then we wonder why animals invade our homes?

Pest Control And Extermination Efforts

People consider groundhogs a nuisance species. They are popular pest control and extermination targets. 

These efforts are one of the top dangers and threats to groundhog populations. They also threaten other animals and their natural habitat.

The need for pest control and extermination is, of course, understandable. But people should still go about it with caution. Unless groundhogs are causing great damage to property and crops, we should try to coexist in peace.

In a perfect world, pest control and extermination would be unnecessary. Natural predators should be enough to control the overpopulation of animals.

.. And speaking of predators:

What Animals Prey On Groundhogs?

In the natural order of things, bigger animals prey on the weak and small. The bigger animals that  prey on groundhogs are:

  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcats
  • Domesticated Dogs
  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Eagles
  • And several others!

Groundhogs are large rodents that don’t have many natural predators. This is one of the main reasons their numbers sometimes get out of control.

All of this is why wildlife should be left alone to thrive. The groundhog population has become a nuisance, partly, because their natural predators, themselves, are under pressure.

Some natural predators also have migrated due to the loss of natural habitat and food sources.

Do Cats And Dogs Prey On Groundhogs?

Domesticated dogs love to chase and hunt groundhogs. It is safe to call them enemies. 

Farmers will agree. Farmers and landowners in North America turn to dogs to keep away rodents like groundhogs and squirrels.

Domesticated cats on the other hand do not usually bother with them. 

While wild North American cats are natural groundhog hunters. These would be the lynx, bobcat, mountain lion, and so on.

Wild cats and dogs help regulate the groundhog population. Predation is part of the natural life cycle in the animal world. This is better than pest control and extermination.

Sadly it isn’t always enough.

Are Groundhogs Affected By Pollution?

Everyone is affected by pollution. Some more than others. Groundhogs are used to harsh living conditions. They are not directly affected by most types of pollution. 

They are indirectly affected by pollution through the plants they eat, the availability of food, and the water they drink. Through these, they can develop diseases, weakening vital organs, deteriorating health, lower reproduction success, and it can even be fatal.

Major pollutants that affect the groundhog’s environment and their food supplies are:

  • Acid rain, which can be caused by pollutants in the air
  • Heavy metals like mercury and lead
  • Other toxic substances

How Can Extreme Weather Endanger Groundhogs?

Extreme weather can be dangerous to groundhogs. It can affect their health and severely shorten their lifespan.

Groundhogs are used to short growing periods and long cold seasons in harsh habitats. They spend their winters in hibernation.

As you might be aware, the world has been experiencing extreme weather changes in the last few decades. These changes have been really hard for some species while some are not showing signs yet.

Shorter Winters

Shorter winters can be really problematic for groundhogs. The groundhog depends on cold weather to preserve its body fat. Without that, they can lose their chance at survival.

Shorter winters are brutal for groundhogs. Groundhogs are used to long hibernation time. Hibernation allows them to preserve fat and energy

High Temperatures

Hot weather causes stress to groundhogs. They do not adapt well to high temperatures as opposed to cold ones.

High temperatures today are not really endangering the groundhog population yet. But studies show that if extreme weather changes continue, groundhogs and other animals will suffer. Extinction will not be far from the horizon.

A Lack Of Food Sources

Diminishing food sources are a real problem for groundhogs. They need to eat as much as they can to prepare for winter. 

The main sources of nourishment for groundhogs are:

  • Crops like corn and wheat
  • Vegetables like carrots and lettuce
  • Fruits like berries, apples, and pears
  • Grass, clover, dandelions, alfalfa, and other herbs and plants

Building their fat reserves before hibernation is important. They need body fat for insulation during winter.

When food is scarce, the groundhog may not survive. Less food also affects their chances of reproduction. 

A lack of food and water has been prevalent these days more than ever. Water sources are drying up.

Does Climate Change Have an Impact on Groundhogs?

Climate change affects groundhogs and other animals. It has severe effects on weather patterns. Winters are warmer and shorter.

Nowadays, groundhogs burrow in their hibernation ground much later than usual. They also rise earlier. This can put their health at risk.

Changes in the natural patterns embedded in their DNA can cause severe stress affecting their health, lifespan, and reproductive health.

Are Groundhogs Going Extinct Soon?

Groundhogs are not going extinct anytime soon. Lucky for them, most rodents adapt to harsh environments and extreme weather.

It does not mean they are not suffering. Groundhogs are feeling the effects of severe changes in weather patterns and human intervention.

Their hibernation cycle, reproduction health, and other instincts are also directly affected by these factors.

It is not a critical time for groundhogs yet, however. Other animals will disappear before them but it does not mean they are not in danger!

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