The Surprising Diet of Groundhogs: What Do They Eat and Why?

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Do not be surprised if you find a groundhog eating the vegetables in your garden. The groundhog is a great forager, and its diet revolves mainly around vegetables. They are prone to exploring the rich produce of gardens.

The groundhog is a proud herbivore who relies on vegetables to survive. Each morning, groundhogs eat a nutritious breakfast of fatty nuts and insects. They also eat yummy veggies and flowers from gardens. 

To rid yourself of a pesky groundhog, sprinkle something with a strong odor on or around your garden. Strong odors include things like coffee grains, crushed pepper, chopped hair, and many more. Anything that will intimidate the imposing groundhog and send it away is worth trying when it comes to an unwelcome guest in your garden!

Are Groundhogs Herbivores, Carnivores, or Omnivores?

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Groundhogs are herbivores who love to eat vegetables and foliage. These small marmots are known for scavenging through gardens to find nutritious, vitamin-packed plants. 

Groundhogs eat a vegetarian diet. They love fresh garden vegetables and are known to raid people’s crops. Sometimes people will have issues with groundhogs creating burrows near their homes so they can continue to steal their crops. Since groundhogs won’t travel 150 feet from their home, they like to stay where the good crops grow.

Are Groundhogs 100% Herbivores?

Herbivores are known for eating mainly vegetables. However, groundhogs can also eat the occasional insect to survive.

Groundhogs mainly eat a vegetarian diet, but they aren’t complete herbivores. They won’t eat meat, so don’t bring any extra burgers to a Groundhog’s Day ceremony. However, they do enjoy nibbling on the odd insect here and there. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since many of their favorite foods already have insects living on them.

 Just like us, Groundhogs enjoy a tasty snack. Some of their favorite insects to munch on include:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Worms
  • June bugs
  • Snails

At What Time Of Day Do Groundhogs Eat?

The most common time of day for groundhogs to eat is in the morning. The morning time is when the woodchuck’s metabolism begins to become active.

What Are Groundhog’s Preferred Food?

Groundhogs are herbivores whose diets mainly consist of grasses, beans, sprouts, and vegetables. As a herbivore, their diet is centered mainly around vegetables. However, the groundhog will occasionally eat various insects such as grasshoppers, snails, and grubs.

One of the cons of being a skilled vegetable gardener means that you could be sharing your property with a groundhog. Leafy greens are a favorite of these little critters, but they seem to enjoy chomping down on any fresh fruit or vegetable. Some of their favorites include:

  • Lettuce
  • Clovers
  • Alfalfa
  • Daisies
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Cherries
  • Apples

Their diet doesn’t consist of just fruits and vegetables either. Groundhogs enjoy almost any type of edible plant, including trees and flowers. They absolutely love nibbling on the bark and twigs from trees, especially dogwood and black cherry trees. Fresh crops of any sort attract groundhogs. 

How Does A Groundhog’s Diet Change Throughout The Year?

The groundhog’s diet changes slightly throughout the year as the foliage changes. Availability of some vegetation changes and the groundhog must accommodate this change. 

During winter, the groundhog goes into hibernation. Hibernation is a period lasting several months through winter when the groundhog does not consume any food. The lack of food is because of their dormancy inside their underground burrows during wintertime.

What Do Groundhogs Eat Before Going Into Hibernation?

Before hibernation, groundhogs will eat high-protein and high-fat foods to help them fatten up for winter. Additional fat helps the groundhog stay warm through winter. These fats include insects, nuts, and other fatty foods.

In addition to generally eating fatty foods, groundhogs eat larger quantities of food too. Groundhogs eat extra food before hibernation each winter so they may remain warm in their burrows through February when they eventually emerge from their hibernation state.

Do Groundhogs Eat Flowers (Mums, Hostas, Dahlias, Petunias, Sunflowers, Tulips, Lillies, Roses, Irises, Inpatients, etc.)?

Groundhogs’ diets are primarily herbivorous, and they devour most green things, including fruits and vegetables. They’re known for consuming hostas, the popular and widely planted herbaceous perennials that are shade-tolerant and have delicate little purple or white flowers. How frustrating it is to wake up one morning and see your whole garden dug up and eaten!

They also scarf down clovers, wild grass, red sorrel, tearthumb, dandelions, daisies, red mulberry, and hackberry leaves. You might be surprised that their favorites include a lot of things humans would eat as part of their five-a-day fruits and veggies, including lettuce, alfalfa, plantain, buckwheat, carrots, celery, corn, peas, beans, berries, cherries, and apples.

Most flowers aren’t poisonous and fulfill the groundhog’s herbivore cravings, making the flower a perfectly suitable treat for a groundhog.

The Chrysanthemums are popular flowers all over the world, and they can be found in colors like purple, white, lavender, yellow, orange, and red. Mums can be grown as both annuals and perennials (but most commonly as annuals), and luckily, they are on the list of plants that are usually left alone by groundhogs.

A few of the groundhog’s favorite flowers include the dandelion, daisy, and iris. These are considered delicious treats for the groundhog and can be given at most weekly for encouragement.

With that being said, groundhogs would prefer to eat other vegetation before many flower types. For example, they would much prefer leafy greens to just about any flower. Whenever options are limited, they will be more than happy to eat impatiens.

Can Groundhogs Eat Vegetable Plants From My Vegetable Garden?

Groundhogs will eat vegetable plants from vegetable gardens. Their scavenging behavior can irritate many gardeners, whose vegetables and plants are eaten in large numbers.

Some of the groundhog’s favorite vegetables that they might eat from your vegetable garden include broccoli, beans, lettuce, and carrots. Gardeners often mistake these marks for rabbits, who are interested in the same foods. 

Groundhogs can destroy gardens, but they can also eat garden pests like grubs which may eat through vegetable roots. So, there is an upside to the disastrous marmot invading your garden space.

How Do I Keep My Flowers and Plants Safe From Groundhogs?

You may keep your flowers and plants safe from groundhogs by placing various ingredients around your garden to keep the pesky rodents away. The most common marmot repellents include spreading pungent odors near your garden.

Great odor repellents include ground black pepper, talcum powder, and hair clippings. These strong odors repel groundhogs from the area because the scent is so overwhelming. Consider spreading these inside and outside the garden’s perimeter so the groundhog does not dig into the planter or walk inside it.

Will Groundhogs Eat Grass or Leaves From Trees and Plants?

Groundhogs can eat grass and leaves. They will snack on fallen leaves from trees and plants if necessary, but they prefer fresh vegetables.

A groundhog will go out of their way to find a local source of fresh vegetables, so they do not need to eat fallen leaves or old vegetables.

Do “Woodchucks” Eat Trees or Actual Wood?

The name certainly indicates that groundhogs, or woodchucks, would chuck or eat wood, but this isn’t the case. In fact, the name comes from a Native American tribe who called them “wuchak,” and it does not have anything to do with wood or chucking. In fact, it actually means “the digger,” which accurately describes this marmot.

It is not known how the name changed from “wuchak” to woodchuck, but it is likely that it was either the result of a mishearing or that the name changed over time as settlers struggled to pronounce it. 

As a result, the woodchuck (also known as groundhogs, whistling pigs, and land beavers) ended up with a slightly deceiving name. They do chuck dirt, not wood when digging their tunnels.

The groundhog is a ground-dwelling animal that feasts on grass and vegetables. The herbivore does not include wood in its regular diet. The only time that woodchucks use wood in their diet is to sharpen their front teeth.

Woodchucks do not eat trees or wood, despite their name. In fact, the woodchucks are better known by their common name, “groundhog,” because they have very little to do with wood.

The only time woodchucks interact with wood is when they sharpen their teeth. The groundhog will sharpen its teeth at the base of trees, which gives you a clear idea that you have a groundhog in the area. 

If you are uncertain whether a woodchuck has visited your garden, check the trunks of the surrounding fruit trees for teeth marks. Woodchucks specifically love to use fruit trees to sharpen their teeth because they are hard, dense, and smell good.

The woodchuck rarely climbs trees, but it does happen occasionally.

Do Groundhogs Eat Fruit Like Bananas, Apples, Watermelon, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Kiwis, Pears, Oranges, Peaches, Grapes, etc.?

Groundhogs love to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples and bananas. These marmots are drawn to the nutrients and sweet taste of the fruit.

Watermelon is one of my favorite fruits, and it turns out that groundhogs love them too. If you started to grow a watermelon vine in your garden only to discover a smashed and half-eaten melon in your garden one morning, there is a very good chance that a groundhog was the thief. 

In general, there is no preference between tree or ground fruits. Groundhogs love eating all types of fruit, including ground, bush, and tree fruits.

Do Groundhogs Eat Vegetables Like Pumpkins, Sweet Potatoes, Zucchinis, Egg Plants, Tomatoes, Carrots, Cale, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Corn, Asparagus, Salad, etc.?

A groundhog will eat almost any type of vegetable. Some of the groundhog’s favorite vegetables include outdoor, vine-grown vegetables like pumpkins, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, and much more.

Groundhogs love vine and stalk vegetables because they are large, easy to attain, and full of vitamins. Vegetables with stalks like corn are easier to identify when groundhogs begin eating them because they will slowly wilt. Gardeners who notice this can easily identify that they have an unwelcome guest in their garden.

What About Bell Peppers or Hot Peppers Like Jalapenos?

Groundhogs tend to avoid eating bell peppers because they do not taste good to them. The groundhog will also avoid eating hot peppers like Jalapenos. These peppers are considered too spicy for the groundhog, so they will avoid eating them. 

Because the woodchuck (and other outdoor rodents) naturally avoid these vegetables, it’s a safe veggie to grow outdoors.

Do Groundhogs Eat Nuts Like Peanuts, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Acorns, Almonds, Seeds, and So On?

The scavenger groundhog will eat any nut that it can find in the wild. These nuts are common, from peanuts to hazelnuts, to acorns. No matter what type of nut it is, groundhogs love to eat nuts. 

Groundhogs are intelligent creatures that see the value of nutrition, which is why they forage for nuts and rely on these small pieces of food for protein content and nutritional value. 

Do Groundhogs Eat Snakes, Rodents, Voles, Toads, Frogs, Fish, Birds, Chickens, Cats, and Other Animals?

It is rare to find reports of a groundhog eating a small animal or rodent. However, there are a few instances when groundhogs ate chickens, fish, birds, and frogs. The incidences when groundhogs ate these small animals resulted in excessive protein and substantial weight gain for the groundhog.

In general, the medium-sized marmot is not large enough to take down small animals. Therefore, groundhogs tend to stick to their herbivore diet.

Do Groundhogs Eat Insects Like Ants, Grubs, Worms, Ticks, Roaches, Yellow Jackets, Bees, and Beetles?

Occasionally, groundhogs will dine on small insects. The most common small insect snacks for groundhogs include grubs, snails, beetles, and more. These small insects provide groundhogs with the additional protein they need to thrive and evade the large predators that may stalk them in the wild. 

Vegetables are the primary source of the groundhog’s diet. However, groundhogs are often interested in smaller insects too.

Some people also wonder if groundhogs can help lower the local populations of ticks, lice, fleas, and other parasites. And while a groundhog might eat a tick now and then, ticks aren’t a big part of their diet.

Can Groundhogs Eat Human Foods Like Bread, Pizza, Dairy, Eggs, Chocolate, or Peanut Butter?

Groundhogs cannot eat human foods. Human foods are difficult for groundhogs to digest because of the chemicals and commercial byproducts.

They do love many industrial food products, like peanut butter, however, but it’s better to avoid having your backyard groundhogs rely too much on them.

As a rule of thumb, avoid feeding your groundhog any type of human food.

Are Human Foods Like Bubble Gum Harmful To Groundhogs?

Bubble gum is extremely harmful to groundhogs for several reasons. Groundhogs often mistake bubble gum for one of their prime food sources, worms. After mistaking gum for worms, the groundhog will try eating this food.

Using a study based on humans, we know that gum takes around seven years to digest on average fully. It is unknown how long it takes the average adult groundhog to digest a piece of bubble gum.

Gum clogging the digestive tract can cause serious, long-term digestive issues.

In addition to serious digestive issues, groundhogs can also suffer from matted fur when they eat or walk across gum. Bubble gum is a sticky substance that will easily stick to the groundhog’s fur. Without assistance, this bubble gum will continue to mat.

Do Groundhogs Like Peanut Butter?

Yes, groundhogs do have an attraction to peanut butter; as many people have discovered. In fact, many residents have found great success in leaving peanut butter in humane traps for groundhogs (like this one on amazon). The smell of the peanut butter creates temptation and lures the groundhog in. 

To make peanut butter even more appealing, spread it on a slice of bread and serve it with some sweet fruit.

Do Groundhogs Eat Pet Food Like Cat or Dog Food, or Bird Seed?

Groundhogs do not prefer eating pet food. If you own a pet groundhog and are considering feeding them, try opting for a grass-based feed. Pet owners may purchase natural grass feed for farm animals instead of domesticated animals.

Will Groundhogs Eat Poison Left Out For Rats?

It is impossible to predict a groundhog’s behavior, so you should not leave out rat poison if the groundhog eats it. Many forms of rat poison use tempting treats. Not all groundhogs will try to eat this treat. 

If a groundhog eats poisoning left out for rats, you should immediately take them in for emergency care. Receiving prompt medical attention is the difference between life or death.

Things That Are Bad For Groundhogs To Eat

The herbivore groundhog cannot eat meat or human food. If groundhogs eat these foods, they are prone to become severely ill. To prevent this from happening, isolate groundhogs from environments that might expose them to these things.

Because the groundhog is a wild animal, feeding groundhogs human food will most likely be dangerous to their lives.

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