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Residents Report Increased Sightings of Groundhogs

AI photo of groundhog
AI photo of groundhog

Groundhog, also known as the Woodchuck, are one of 14 species of marmots in the Squirrel family. They can get up to 2 feet long and weigh about 14 lbs. Groundhogs can be identified by their short bushy tail. Groundhogs are common throughout Maryland and according to community members, there has been an increased sighting of groundhogs.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, "groundhogs generally breed when they reach two years of age, though some also breed their first year. Early March through April, Groundhogs mate and take up to 32 days for the young to develop. The male will stay in the den with the female until just before the young are born. Usually, litters consist of 2 to 6 blind, naked and helpless young which take 5 to 6 weeks to wean."

Groundhogs dig burrows, sometimes up to 5 feet deep with tunnels as long as 45 feet for sleeping, nesting and hibernating. Generally, these burrows have 2 to 5 entrances to help escape from predators. Sometimes these burrows can be buried up to 5 feet down and can consist of as much as 45 feet of tunnel segments.

In general, there is no need for people to fear groundhogs. They are generally not aggressive towards humans and will typically retreat to their burrows if they feel threatened. However, like any wild animal, they should be treated with caution and respect. when they are alarmed, they belt out a shrill whistle to warn others. Groundhogs will chatter teeth, hiss, squeal or growl when angry. If a groundhog is cornered or feels threatened, it may become defensive and bite or scratch, so people should avoid attempting to handle or approach them.

Groundhogs can cause damage to building foundations, backyard gardens and crops, as they are herbivores and will eat a variety of plants. If you are experiencing problems with groundhogs damaging your property, there are a variety of humane methods for deterring them or encouraging them to move to a different location or consult the Nuisance Wildlife Hotline at 1-877-463-6497.

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