Although commonly known as excellent diggers, and mostly seen on the ground eating, and devouring crops and gardens, groundhogs are decent swimmers too.
They do not stay in bodies of water if they can help it. But when necessary, groundhogs can carry their own in the water.
Can Groundhogs Swim?
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Oh yes, groundhogs can swim. They are not just expert diggers and great climbers, they are talented swimmers too. They are well-equipped for survival.
Groundhogs do not love water but they can go in and swim if necessary. For a large, relatively fat rodent, they do pretty well.
Just because they can, does not mean they love it, however. Groundhogs stay near water but are conscious not to go in it if they can avoid it.
Are Groundhogs Good Swimmers?
Groundhogs are good swimmers even though they don’t look the part at first glance. They have fat, short legs, and big bellies so they look like they will have a hard time in the water. But looks can be deceiving!
The groundhog uses its paws and paddle-like tail to swim and help them stay afloat and navigate lakes and ponds with ease
Groundhogs also have excellent lung capacity so they do not tire easily and can hold their breath for a relatively long time.
In addition to that, groundhogs can function normally even when water conditions are extremely cold.
Why Would A Groundhog Swim?
Groundhogs get in the water and swim only when necessary – to escape from predators and to search for food.
No other reason. They’re neither fond of bathing, nor of cooling down in a pond on a hot summer’s day. They don’t like water that much, so they only get in if they’re afraid or hungry enough.
Groundhogs Swim To Escape Predators
Groundhogs live in areas near water like streams, lakes, and ponds. Bodies of water like these are great food sources and provide a quick escape when the groundhogs are pursued by predators.
Most of the groundhog’s natural predators are bigger ground animals that avoid water. When they are pursued in the water, they dive to discourage the enemy.
Some of the natural enemies of groundhogs are:
- Wild cats
- Domesticated dogs
- Raptors (the birds, not the dinosaurs).
Living near water is both convenient and strategic. When you are a fairly small animal, being smart is the key to survival. Groundhogs are doing it right.
Groundhogs Swim When Searching For Food
Groundhogs are food-motivated. There is no ground they will not cover to get food. Well, in this case, no water they will not jump into to get food.
Groundhogs usually eat fruits, vegetables, tree bark, greens, and other kinds of vegetation. They also eat insects like grasshoppers, snails, and bugs when they can get their hands on them.
This diet changes occasionally depending on the availability of food during different seasons.
Lakes, streams, and ponds provide alternative food choices all year round. They provide edible aquatic plants, insects and other foods groundhogs need for sustenance.
Can Groundhogs Dive Underwater?
Yes, groundhogs can dive underwater and can even stay underwater for some time.
Groundhogs have an impressive lung capacity that allows them to hold their breath long enough to discourage predators from pursuing them.
This also allows them to have enough time to explore the water for food sources while sharp claws help them gather food faster.
Groundhogs don’t always dive but it does come in handy when they are escaping a predator that is comfortable in the water. Being able to go deep increases their chance of survival. It is a jungle out there! Groundhogs do what they have to do to live.
What Do Groundhogs Do If Their Tunnels Are Flooded?
When the groundhog’s tunnel is flooded, they simply go to an upper chamber of the tunnel that is dry. The groundhog’s tunnel is made in such a way that it will be secure from flooding in most cases. If the whole tunnel is flooded, they come out of their home and evacuate until it is safe to return.
Groundhogs bring their young with them when they go to the upper grounds for safety.
The Groundhog’s Multi-Level Tunnels Help It Stay Dry
The groundhog tunnel is designed to prevent flooding. They are known to be excellent architects. Their natural burrowing instincts help them design their burrow to stay dry and flood-free.
Their home is made of interconnecting tunnels that extend between 8 to 66 meters wide and not more than 6 feet deep.
Their tunnels are well-designed, complex homes with different chambers like a nesting area, a waste area, or a latrine, and different chambers where the groundhog can seek refuge in case of danger or flooding.
Both Nature and Humans Can Cause Groundhog Tunnel Flooding
Unfortunately, sometimes nature and humans intervene. Heavy rains can cause flooding to the groundhogs’ homes. In these cases, groundhogs stay in an elevated area and wait for the flood to be over. Groundhogs don’t have problems with flooding very often, however, because of how they design their homes.
People on the other hand often flood groundhog tunnels intentionally to drive them away or worse, to exterminate them.
When this happens, groundhogs and their young run for safety. They wait it out until the flood subsides and it is safe to go back. Most of the time, their burrows will end up destroyed by the water.
We humans cause more damage to groundhogs than they do us. Their lives and homes are worth more than a few vegetables and holes on the ground. Let’s remember that.
Do Groundhogs Bathe?
No, groundhogs do not bathe. They do not go into the water for cleaning or grooming purposes. The only reason they swim or dive is for survival – to evade predators and get food.
Groundhogs prefer to stay in dry places. They also love to stay dry, themselves, if they can help it, which is why they avoid getting into water if possible.
How Do Groundhogs Keep Clean?
Groundhogs are not high-maintenance when it comes to keeping clean. They require consistent teeth cleaning and sharpening and they are good to go!
Living in underground tunnels, one would expect groundhogs to be covered in dust, debris, and dirt, but that is not the case.
The groundhog’s fur does not accumulate dirt, but dust and dirt slide off easily. A good shake should do it!
Like it’s the case with most wild animals, bathing isn’t really necessary. With a proper diet, healthy life, and daily grooming, the groundhog will stay nice and clean without having to get wet.