Most people see groundhogs as nuisance animals that mess with trash and cause trouble. But have you ever wondered how they survive in the wild and why they love to dig through your garbage?
We, here at Floofmania have always been fascinated by these furry animals so today we are going to discuss their eating and foraging habits!
How Do Groundhogs Forage?
Table of Contents
- 1 How Do Groundhogs Forage?
- 2 Do Groundhogs Take Their Food With Them Or Eat Where They Are?
- 3 Do Groundhogs Have Cheek Pouches Where They Stuff Food?
Groundhogs forage for food, and it’s pretty much what they do for most of their lives. In fact, they only emerge to forage because their main motivation for survival is food. Groundhogs are the ultimate foodies!
The woodchuck mostly eats plants and vegetables, so it will spend its early mornings and evenings seeking out the best food that it will quickly eat, or in some cases bring back to its burrow. Since groundhogs are dependant on the security of their burrows, they generally don’t venture too far away from it to forage.
When there is an opportunity to get food, they grab it because groundhogs are not really picky, and can easily adapt to any available food choices. They can also eat snails, bugs, and insects and they even climb trees to get fruits like apples and pears, and dig through dirt to get root crops like carrots and potatoes!
If groundhogs live near residential areas, they will climb fences to get their claws on garbage bins or anywhere else where food is available. They are unstoppable!
They forage relentlessly and would even wander into residential areas digging through trash to look for food. If they smell food, they don’t let anything stop them. (Well.. Almost..)
Food is their top priority, mating only comes second. Food consumes their very short lives. Did you know that groundhogs live for only two to three years?
When Do Groundhogs Come Out To Gather Food?
Groundhogs come out of their burrows to forage for food in the morning and at night. They generally eat two times per day.
They are diurnal animals which means they are active in the morning starting very early, then they stay inactive at noon and the rest of the day and become active again in the evening before they go back to sleep.
During the time when groundhogs are active, their time is spent almost exclusively on eating and finding more food.
Where Do Groundhogs Find Food?
Groundhogs always go for the food source that’s the closest to their burrow, so if they live near a farm, they will help themselves to the crops growing in the area.
If they live near your garden, say goodbye to your vegetables! Groundhogs love to eat:
- And anything they can get their hands on!
While vegetable gardens are a hit among groundhogs, they seek out food just about everywhere in their habitat. They eat berries from the forest’s undergrowth, different kinds of groundcover, flowers from plains and grasslands and even people’s trash!
Why Do Groundhogs Eat So Much?
Groundhogs are voracious eaters because they need to build up their fat reserves which they rely on during hibernation. They do not eat or drink water when they hibernate, so their obsession with food is understandable.
Groundhogs spend most of the summer and fall beefing up, gaining as much weight as possible, and storing body fat that will sustain them for the long months of hibernation.
Other than acting as a sort of reserved calories, their body fat also serves as insulation to keep them warm from the harsh cold winter. The groundhog’s survival depends on how much food it eats and how fat it is able to become before winter comes.
Do Groundhogs Take Their Food With Them Or Eat Where They Are?
Groundhogs do both. They eat where they find the food and consume as much as they can. Then they bring the rest with them to their burrow.
If, however, the groundhog judges that the area is unsafe and that it might risk running into a predator or a human, it might decide to bring its food straight home without sampling it first.
Groundhogs Sometimes Eat Their Food Where They Find It
Groundhogs will sometimes opt for devouring the food they find right where they found it, especially when they are hungry! It doesn’t matter where they are, as long as there is food to eat, they feast. Mind you, they eat a lot!
They love to stuff themselves to gain weight in preparation for winter and hibernation. Did you know that they can eat a pound of food in one sitting? Now, that’s a big appetite!
In case you haven’t noticed, groundhogs have round bodies, fat legs, and big bellies, now you know why!
Sometimes Groundhogs Take Their Food With Them To Their Burrow
In some cases, groundhogs bring their food home to store for future consumption. They take as many trips as they can as long as there is food available.
This relentless activity comes from their desire to store enough food to last them for a rainy day before they need to go into hibernation. They are real hoarders!
Groundhogs can also decide to bring food back to their burrows if they’re nervous about predators and other threats outside, or simply if they’re already stuffed and want to save the rest of their food for later!
Their burrows have multiple sections where they have rooms for sleeping, a “toilet area”, and multiple chambers for food storage. When they are not foraging they spend the day in their burrow eating and resting.
Do Groundhogs Have Cheek Pouches Where They Stuff Food?
Groundhogs do not have cheek pouches unlike their rodent cousins the gophers and hamsters. And since they cannot store food in their cheeks, they can only eat until they’re full… And then a bit more!
As we’ve already mentioned, groundhogs do sometimes bring food back to their burrows, but they don’t carry it in cheek pouches. Instead, they use their mouths, teeth, and paws to carry any food they may have extra back to their burrow.
Groundhogs don’t need cheek pouches because they are much larger rodents and can make up for it with their amazing appetite!